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3 3333 12620 8012 

842 Claudel 

Claudel, Paul 

The tidings brought 

to Mary; 

259463 MM 


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Form #0692 

M A R Y : 

PAUL CLAUDEL : Translated from 






First published, June, 1916 

* ' * , ' 


. 4 















The barn at Combernon. It is a lofty edifice, with 
square pillars that support a vaulted roof. It is empty 
except for the right wing, which is still filled with straw; 
and straws are scattered about on the floor, which is of 
well-trampled earth. At the back is a large double 
door in the thick wall, with complicated bars and bolts. 
On the valves of the door are painted rude images of St. 
Peter and St. Paul, one holding the keys, the other the 
sword. The scene zs lighted by a -aige yellow wax 
candle in an iron socket fastened to one of the pillars. 

The scenes of the drama take place at the close of the 
Middle Ages, seen conventionally, as'mzdiczval poets 
might have imagined classic antiquity. 

The time is nighi, merging into the hours of dawn. 

Enter, on a heavy horse, a man ^wearing a black 
cloak, and with a leathern bag on the horse's croup 
behind him, PIERRE DE CRAON. His gigantic shadow 
moves across the wall, the floor, the pillars. 

Suddenly , from behind a pillar, VIOLAINE steps out 
to meet him. She is tall and slender, and her feet are 
bare. Her gown is of coarse woollen stuff, and upon 
her head is a linen coif at once peasant-like and 


VIOLAINE (laughingly raising her hands toward him, 

with the forefingers crossed): Halt, my lord 

cavalier! Dismount! 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Violaine! (He gets off the horse. 
VIOLAINE: Softly, Master Pierre! Is that the way 

one leaves the house, like a thief without an 

honest greeting to the ladies? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Violaine, take yourself off. It is 

the dead of night, and we are here alone, the 

two of us. 
And you know that I am not such a very safe 

VIOLAINE : I arn not afraid of you, mason ! A man 

is not wicked merely because he wants to be! 
And a man doesn't do with me just as he wills! 
Poor Pierre! You did not even succeed in killing 


* * 

With your wretched knife! Nothing but a little 
snick on mv arm which nobodv has seen. 

( 4 , I ** ' 

PIERRE DE GRAON,: Violaine, you must forgive me. 

VIOLAINE : It is for .that I came. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: You are the first woman I ever 

laid hands on.- The devil, who always seizes his 

chance, took possession of me. 

VIOLAINE: But you found me stronger than him. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Violaine, I am even more 

dangerous now than I was then. 
VIOLAINE: Must we then fight once more? 



PIERRE DE CRAON: Even my very presence here is 

baleful. (Silence. 

VIOLAINE: I don't know what you mean. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Had I not my work? Stones 

enough to choose and gather, wood enough to 

join, and metals to melt and mould. 
My own work, that suddenly I should lay an 

impious and lustful hand on the work of another, 

a living being? 
VIOLAINE: In my father's house, the house of your 

host ! Lord ! what would they have said if they 

had known? But I concealed it well. 
And they all take you for a sincere and blameless 

man, just as they did before. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Under appearances, God judges 

the heart. 

VIOLAINE : We three then will guard the secret. 
VIOLAINE: Master Pierre? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Stand there near the candle 

that I may see you well. 

(She stands, smiling, under the candle. He 

looks a long while at her. 

VIOLAINE : Have you looked at me long enough? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Who are you, young girl, and 

what part in you has God reserved to himself. 
That the hand which touches you with fleshly 

desire should in that same instant be thus 


Withered, as if it had approached too near the 

mystery of his dwelling-place? 
VIOLAINE: What has happened to you, then, since 

last year? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: The very next day after that 

one you remember . . . 
VIOLAINE: Well - ? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I discovered in my side the 

horrible scourge. 

VIOLAINE: The scourge, you say? What scourge? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Leprosy, the same we read of 

in the book of Moses. 
VIOLAINE: What is leprosy? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Have you never heard of the 

woman who lived alone among the rocks of the 

Veiled from head to foot, and with a rattle in her 

hand ? 

VIOLAINE: That malady, Master Pierre? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Such a scourge it is 
That he who has it in its most malicious form 
Must be set apart at once, 
For there is no living man so healthy that leprosy 

cannot taint him. 
VIOLAINE : Why, then, are you still at liberty among 


PIERRE DE CRAON: The Bishop gave me a dispensa- 
tion, and you must know how few people I see, 



Except my workmen to give them orders, and my 

malady is as yet secret and concealed. 
And, were I not there, who would give away those 
new-born churches whom God has confided to 
my care, on their wedding day? 
VIOLAINE: Is that why nobody has seen you this 

time at Combernon? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I could not avoid returning here, 
Because it is my duty to open the side of Mon- 


And to unseal the wall for each new flight of 
doves that seek entrance into the high Ark 
whose gates may only open toward heaven! 
And this time we led to the altar an illustrious 

victim, a solemn censer, 
The Queen herself, mother of the King, ascending 

in her own person, 
For her son deprived of his kingdom. 
And now I return to Rheims. 
VIOLAINE: Maker of doors, let me open this one 

for you. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Was there no one else at the 

farm to do me this service? 
VIOLAINE: The servant likes to sleep, and willingly 

gave me the keys. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Have you no fear or horror of 

the leper? 
VIOLAINE : There is God, He knows how to protect me. 



PIERRE DE CRAON: Give me the key, then. 
VIOLAINE: No. Let me. You do not understand 

the working of these old doors. 
Indeed ! Do you take me for a dainty damsel 
Whose taper fingers are used to nothing rougher 
than the spur, light as the bone of a bird, that 
arms the heel of her new knight ? 
You shall see! 

(She turns the keys in the two grinding locks 

and draws the bolts. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: This iron is very rusty. 
VIOLAINE: The door is no longer used. But the 
road is shorter this way. 

(She strains at the bar. 
I have opened the door! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: What could resist such an 

assailant ? 
What a dust! the old valve from top to bottom 

creaks and moves, 

The black spiders run away, the old nests crumble, 
and the door at last opens from the centre. 

(The door opens; throtigh the darkness can 
be seen the meadows and the harvest. A 
feeble glimmer in the east. 
VIOLAINE: This little rain has done everybody 


PIERRE DE CRAON: The dust in the road will be 
well laid. 



VIOLAINE (in a low voice, affectionately) : Peace to 
you, Pierre! 

(Silence. And, suddenly, sonorous and clear 
and very high in the heaven, the first 
tolling of the Angelus. Pierre takes off 
his hat, and both make the sign of the 

VIOLAINE (her hands clasped and her face raised to 
heaven, in a voice beautifully clear and touching) : 

(Second tolling. 
PIERRE DE CRAON (in a hollow voice) : QUIA QUEM 


(Third tolling. 





VERE, ALLELUIA! (Peal of the Angelus. 





VIOLAINE : Amen. (Both cross themselves. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: How early the Angelus rings! 
VIOLAINE: They say matins up there at midnight 

like the Carthusians. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I shall be at Rheims this evening. 
VIOLAINE : Know you well the road ? 
First along this hedge, 

And then by that low house in the grove of elder 
bushes, under which you will see five or six 

And a hundred paces further on you reach the 
King's Highway. (A pause. 

How all creation seems to rest with God in a 

profound mystery! 

That which was hidden grows visible again with 
Him, and I feel on my face a breath as fresh 
as roses. 

Praise thy God, blessed earth, in tears and dark- 
The fruit is for man, but the flower is for God 

and the sweet fragrance of all things born. 
Thus the virtue of the holy soul that is hidden is 
subtly revealed, as the mint leaf by its odour. 
Violaine, who have opened the door for me, fare- 



I shall never return again to you. 

young tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, 
behold how my dissolution begins because I 
have laid my hands upon you, 

And already my soul and body are being divided, 
as the wine in the vat from the crushed grape! 
What matters it? I had no need of woman. 

1 have never possessed a corruptible woman. 
The man who in his heart has preferred God, sees 

when he dies his guardian Angel. 
The time will soon come when another door opens, 
When he who in this life has pleased but few, 

having finished his work, falls asleep in the 

arms of the eternal Bird: 
When through translucent walls looms on all 

sides the sombre Paradise, 
And the censers of the night mingle their scent with 

the odour of the noisome wick as it sputters out. 
VIOLAINE: Pierre de Craon, I know that you do 

not expect to hear from me any false sighs, 

"Poor fellows!" or "Poor Pierres." 
Because to him who suffers the consolation of a 

joyous comforter is not of much worth, for his 

anguish is not to us what it is to him. 
Suffer with our Lord. 
But know that your evil act is forgotten 
So far as it concerns me, and that I am at peace 

with you, 



And that I do not scorn or abhor you because 

you are stricken with the pest and malady, 
But I shall treat you like a healthy man, and like 

Pierre de Craon, our old friend, whom I respect 

and love and fear. 
What I say to you is true. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Thank you, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: And now I have something to ask you. 
VIOLAINE : What is this beautiful'story that my father 

has told us? What is this 'Justice' that you 

are building at Rheims, and that will be more 

beautiful than Saint-Remy and Notre-Dame ? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: It is the church which the guilds 

of Rheims gave me to build on the site of the 

old Parc-aux-Ouilles, 1 
There where the old Marc-de-1'Eveque 2 was 

burned down yesteryear. 
Firstly, as a thank-offering to God for seven fat 

summers while distress reigned everywhere else 

in the kingdom, 
For abundant grain and fruit, for cheap and 

beautiful wool, 
For cloth and parchment profitably sold to the 

merchants of Paris and Germany. 
Secondly, for the liberties acquired, the privileges 

conferred by our Lord the King, 

1 Sheep-fold. 2 The bishop's still. 



The old order issued against us by Bishops 

Felix II and Abondant de Cramail 
Rescinded by the Pope, 
And all that by the aid of the bright sword and 

Champenois coins. 
For such is the Christian commonwealth, without 

servile fear, 
But that each should have his right, according 

to justice, in marvellous diversity, 
That charity may be fulfilled. 

VIOLAINE: But of which King and of which Pope 
do you speak ? For there are two, and one does 
not know which is the good one. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: The good one is he who is 

good to us. 

VIOLAINE: You do not speak rightly. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Forgive me. I am only an ig- 
norant man. 
VIOLAINE: And whence comes this name given to 

the new parish? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Have you never heard of Saint 
Justice who was martyred in an anise field in 
the time of the Emperor Julian? 
(The anise seeds which they put in our ginger- 
bread at the Easter fair.) 

As we were trying to divert the waters of a sub- 
terranean spring, to make way for our founda- 



We discovered her tomb, with this inscription on 
a slab of stone, broken in two: JUSTITIA ANCILLA 
The fragile little skull was broken like a nut 

she was a child of eight years 
And a few milk teeth still adhere to the jaw. 
For which all Rheims is filled with admiration, 
and many signs and miracles follow the body 
Which we have laid in a chapel, to await the 

completion of our work. 
But under the great foundation stone we have 

left, like seed, the little teeth. 

VIOLAINE: What a beautiful story! And father 
also told us that all the ladies of Rheims give 
their jewels for the building of the Justice. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: We have a great heap of them, 
and many Jews around them like flies. 

(VIOLAINE has been looking down and turning 
hesitatingly a massive gold ring which she 
wears on her fourth finger. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: What ring is that, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: A ring that Jacques gave me. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I congratulate you. 

(She holds out the ring to him. 
VIOLAINE: It is not yet settled. My father has said 


Well! That is what I wanted to tell you. 



Take my beautiful ring, which is all I have, and 

Jacques gave it to me secretly. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: But I do not want it! 
VIOLAINE: Take it quickly, or I shall no longer 
have the strength to part with it. 

(He takes the ring. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: What will your betrothed say? 

VIOLAINE: He is not really my betrothed yet. 

The loss of a ring does not change the heart. He 

knows me. He will give me another of silver. 

This one was too fine for me. 

PIERRE DE CRAON (examining it) : It is of vegetable 
gold which, in former times, they knew how to 
make with an alloy of honey. 
It is as supple as wax, and nothing can break it. 
VIOLAINE: Jacques turned it up in the ground when 
he was ploughing, in a place where they some- 
times find old swords turned quite green, and 
pretty bits of glass. 
I was afraid to wear such a pagan thing, which 

belongs to the dead. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I accept this pure gold. 
VIOLAINE : And kiss my sister Justice for me. 
PIERRE DE CRAON (looking suddenly at her, as if struck 
with an idea) : Is that all you have to give me 
for her? a bit of gold taken off your finger? 
VIOLAINE: Will that not be enough to pay for 
one little stone? 



PIERRE DE CRAON: But Justice is a large stone 

VIOLAINE (laughing): I am not from the same 

PIERRE DE CRAON: The stone needed for the base 

is not the stone needed for the pinnacle. 
VIOLAINE: Then, if I am a stone, may it be that 

useful one that grinds the corn, coupled to the 

twin millstone. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: And Justitia also was only a 

humble little girl at her mother's side. 
Until the moment God called her to the confession 

of faith. 

VIOLAINE: But nobody wishes me ill! Is it neces- 
sary that I should go preach the Gospel to the 

Saracens ? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: It is not for the stone to choose 

its own place, but for the Master of the Work 

who chose the stone. 
VIOLAINE: Then praised be God who has given me 

mine now, and I have no longer to seek it. 

And I ask him for no other. 
I am Violaine, I am eighteen years old, my father's 

name is Anne Vercors, my mother's name is 

My sister's name is Mara, my betrothed is named 

Jacques. There, that is all, there is nothing 

more to know. 


Everything is perfectly clear, all is arranged 

beforehand, and I am very glad. 
I am free, I have nothing to trouble me; another 

will lead me, the poor man, and he knows every- 
thing that there is to do. 
Sower of steeples, come to Combernon! we will 

give you stone and wood, but you shall not 

have the daughter of the house! 
And, besides, is this not already the house of God, 

the land of God, the service of God? 
Have we not charge over lonely Monsanvierge, 

which we must feed and guard, providing it 

with bread, wine, and wax, 
Being a dependency of this lonely eyrie of angels 

with half-spread wings? 
Thus, as the great lords have their dovecot, we 

too have ours, which is known from a great 

distance away. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: One day as I went through the 

forest of Fisme, I heard two beautiful oak trees 

talking together, 
Praising God for making them immovable on the 

spot where they were born. 
Now one of them, in the prow of an ocean raft, 

makes war upon the Turks, 
The other, felled under my care, supports Jehanne, 

the good bell in the tower of Laon, whose 

voice is heard ten leagues away. 



Young girl, in my craft one does not keep one's 

eyes in one's pocket. 

I know the good stone under the juniper trees, 
and the good wood like a master woodpecker; 
In the same way, men and women. 
VIOLAINE: But not girls, Master Pierre! That 
is too subtle for you. And in the first place, 
there is nothing at all to know. 
PIERRE DE CRAON (in a low voice)'. You love him 

dearly, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE (lowering her eyes) : That is a great mystery 

between us two. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Blessed be thou in thy pure heart! 
Holiness is not to get oneself stoned by the Turks, 

or to kiss a leper on the mouth, 
But to obey promptly God's commands. 
Whether it be 

To stay where we are, or to ascend higher. 
VIOLAINE: Ah, how beautiful the world is, and how 

happy I am! 
PIERRE DE CRAON (speaking low) : Ah, how beautiful 

the world is, and how unhappy I am! 
VIOLAINE (pointing to the sky): Man of the city, 
listen ! (Pause. 

Do you hear high up there that little soul singing? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: It is the lark! 
VIOLAINE: It is the lark, alleluia! The lark of the 
Christian earth, alleluia, alleluia! 



Do you hear it cry four times, he! he! he! he! 

higher, higher! 

Do you see it, the eager little cross, with its 
wings spread, like the seraphim who have 
only wings and no feet, singing shrilly before 
the throne of God? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I hear it. 
And it is thus I heard it once at dawn, on the day 
we dedicated my daughter Notre-Dame de la 

And a golden point gleamed at the topmost pin- 
nacle of this great thing I had made, like a 
star new-born! 
VIOLAINE: Pierre de Craon, if you had done with 

me as you would, 
Would you be more happy now because of that, 

or I more beautiful? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: No, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: And would I still be the same Violaine 

whom you loved? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: No, not she, but another. 
VIOLAINE: And which is better, Pierre, 

That I share my joy with you, or that I share your 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Sing far up in the highest 

heaven, lark of France! 

VIOLAINE: Forgive me, for I am too happy, because 
he whom I love 



Loves me, and I am sure of him, and I know he 

loves me, and all is equal between us. 
And because God made me to be happy and not 

for evil nor any sorrow. 

PIERRE DE CRAON : Mount to heaven in a single flight ! 

As for me, to ascend a little I must have the 

whole of a cathedral, with its deep foundations. 

VIOLAINE: And tell me that you forgive Jacques 

for marrying me. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: No, I do not forgive him. 
VIOLAINE: Hatred does you no good, Pierre, and 

makes me grieve. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: It is you who make me speak. 
Why do you force me to show the ugly wound 
that no one sees? 
Let me go, and ask me nothing more. We shall 

not see each other any more. 
All the same, I carry away his ring! 
VIOLAINE: Leave your hatred in its place, and I 
will give it back to you when you have need of it. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: But besides, Violaine, I am 

very wretched. 

It is hard to be a leper, to bear this shameful 
wound, knowing that there is no cure and that 
there is no help for it, 

But that each day it spreads and bites deeper; 
and to be alone, and to suffer one's own poison, 
to feel oneself alive in corruption, 



Not only to taste death once, aye, ten times, but 
to miss nothing, even to the end, of the horrible 
alchemy of the tomb ! 

It is you who have brought this evil upon me by 
your beauty, for before I saw you I was pure 
and happy, 

My heart lost in my work and ideas, under an- 
other's command. 
And now that I command in my turn, and draw 

the plans, 
Behold, you turn your face toward me with that 

poisonous smile. 

VIOLAINE: The poison was not in me, Pierre! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I know it, it was in me, and it 
is still there, and this sick flesh has not cured 
the tainted soul! 
O little soul, was it possible that I should see you 

and not love you? 
VIOLAINE: And certainly you have shown that you 

loved me. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: It is my fault if the fruit hangs 
on the branch? 

And who is he who loves and does not desire all? 
VIOLAINE: And that is why you tried to destroy 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Man, cruelly injured, has his 

infernal shades, too, like woman. 
VIOLAINE: In what have I failed you? 



PIERRE DE CRAON: O image of eternal Beauty, 
thou art not for me! 

VIOLAINE: I am not an image! 
That is not the way to speak! 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Another takes from you that 
which was for me. 

VIOLAINE: The image remains. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Another takes Violaine from me, 
and leaves me this tainted flesh and this con- 
sumed mind. 

VIOLAINE: Be a man, Pierre! Be worthy of the 

flame which consumes you ! 

And if one must be consumed, let it be like the 
Paschal-candle, flaming on its golden candela- 
brum in the midst of the choir for the glory 
of all the Church! 

PIERRE DE CRAON: So many sublime pinnacles! 
But shall I never see the roof of my own little 
house under the trees? 

So many belfries whose circling shadows write 
the hour for all the city! But shall I never 
design an oven, and the room for the children? 

VIOLAINE: It was not for me to take for myself 
alone what belongs to all. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: When will the wedding be, 
Violaine ? 

VIOLAINE: At Michaelmas, I suppose, when the 
harvest is done. 



PIERRE DE CRAON: On that day, when the bells 
of Monsanvierge have spoken and are silent, 
listen well and you will hear me answer them 
far away at Rheims. 

VIOLAINE: Who takes care of you there? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I have always lived like a work- 
man; it is enough for me if I have a bunch of 
straw between two stones, a leathern coat, and 
a little bacon on my bread. 

VIOLAINE: Poor Pierre! 

PIERRE DE CRAON: I am not to be pitied for that; 

we are set apart. 

I do not live as other men, as I am always under 
the ground with the foundations, or in the sky 
with the belfry. 

VIOLAINE: Well! We could never have lived to- 
gether! My head swims if I only go up to the 

PIERRE DE CRAON: This church alone will be my 
wife, drawn from my side like an Eve of stone, 
in the slumber of pain. 

May I soon feel my great structure rising under 
me, and lay my hand on this indestructible 
thing I have made, whose parts hold firmly 
together, this solid work which I have con- 
structed of strong stone that the Holy Sacra- 
ment may be placed there, my work that God 



I shall never come down again! It is I at whom 
they point, that group of young girls with arms 
interlaced, on the chequered pavement a hun- 
dred feet below! 
VIOLAINE: You must come down. Who knows 

but I shall have need of you some day? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Farewell, Violaine, my soul, I 

shall never see you again! 
VIOLAINE: Who knows that you will never see 

me again? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Farewell, Violaine! 
How many things I have already done! How 
many things remain for me to do, how much 
building up of habitations! 
Darkness, with God. 

Not the hours of the office in a breviary, but 
the real hours of a cathedral, where the sun 
brings light and shade successfully to every 

I take away your ring, 
And of its little circle I will make golden 

"God caused the deluge to cease," as says the 

baptismal psalm, 
And I, between the walls of the Justice, shall 

imprison the gold of the dawn! 
The light of day changes, but not that which I 
shall distil under those arches, 



Like the light of the human soul, that the Host 

may dwell in the midst of it. 
The soul of Violaine, my child, in whom my 

heart delights. 
There are churches like pits, and others which 

are like furnaces, 

And others so delicately put together, adjusted 
with such art, that they seem as if they would 
ring like a bell under a finger-tap. 
But that which I am going to build will lie under 
its own shadow like condensed gold, and like 
a pyx full of manna! 

VIOLAINE : O Master Pierre, what a beautiful stained- 
glass window you gave to the monks of Clinchy ! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: The staining of glass is not my 

art, though I know something of it. 
But, before the glass is made, the architect, by 
his knowledge of arrangement, makes the stone 
framework like a filter in the waves of God's 

And gives to the whole edifice its individual lustre, 
as to a pearl. 

(MARA VERCORS enters and watches them with- 
out being seen. 
And now farewell! The sun is risen, and I ought 

already to be far on my road. 
VIOLAINE: Farewell, Pierre! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Farewell, Violaine! 



VIOLAINE: Poor Pierre! 

(She looks at him with eyes full of tears, 
hesitates, and offers him her hand. He 
seizes it, and while he holds it between his 
own she leans towards him and kisses him 
on the face. 

MARA makes a gesture of surprise and goes 


the different doors. 



Act One: Scene One 

The kitchen of Combernon, a spacious room having 
a great fireplace with an emblazoned mantel; in the 
middle of the room a long table and all the domestic 
utensils, as in a picture by Breughel. THE MOTHER, 
stooping before the hearth, tries to revive the fire. 
ANNE VERCORS, standing, looks at her. He is a tall 
and strong man of sixty years, with a full blond beard 
streaked with much white. 

THE MOTHER (without turning round) : Why do you 

look at me like that? 

ANNE VERCORS (thinking): The end, already! It is 
like coming to the last page in a picture book. 
"When the night had passed, the woman having 
revived the household fire . . .," and the humble 
and touching story is finished. 
It is as if I were no longer here. There she is, 
before my eyes, yet seeming already like some- 
thing only remembered. (Aloud. 
O wife it is a month since we were married 
With a ring which is shaped like Oui, 
A month of which each day is a year. 
And for a long time you were fruitless 
Like a tree which gives nothing but shade. 



And one day we looked at each other 

And it was the middle of our life, 

Elisabeth! and I saw the first wrinkles on thy 

forehead and around thine eyes. 
And, as on our wedding day, 
We clasped and embraced each other, no longer 

with lightness of heart, 
But with the tenderness and compassion and 

piety of our mutual trust. 

And between us was our child and the modesty 
Of this sweet narcissus, Violaine. 
And then the second was born to us, 
Mara the black. Another daughter, and not a 

son. (Pause. 

Well now, say what you have to say, for I know 
When you begin speaking without looking at you, 

saying something and nothing. Come now! 
THE MOTHER: You know well that one can tell you 

nothing. You are never there, and I must even 

catch you to sew on a button. 
And you do not listen to one, but like a watch- 
dog you watch, 

Only attentive to the noises of the door. 
But men never understand anything. 
ANNE VERCORS: Now the little girls are grown up. 
THE MOTHER: They? No. 
ANNE VERCORS: To whom are we going to marry 

them all? 



THE MOTHER: Marry them, Anne, say you? 

We have plenty of time to think of that. 
ANNE VERCORS: Oh, deceit of woman! Tell me! 

When think you anything 

But first you do not say just the contrary; mali- 
ciousness! I know thee. 
THE MOTHER: I won't say anything more. 
ANNE VERCORS: Jacques Hury. 

ANNE VERCORS: There. I will give him Violaine . . . 
And he will take the place of the son I have not 

had. He is an upright and industrious man. 
I have known him since he was a little lad, and 
his mother gave him to us. It is I who have 
taught him everything, 
Grain, cattle, servants, arms, tools, our neighbours, 

our betters, custom - - God 
The weather, the nature of this ancient soil, 
How to reflect before speaking. 
I have seen him develop into a man while he was 
looking at me and the beard grow around his 
kind face, 
As he is now, straight-backed and tight like the 

ears of the barley. 

And he was never one of those who contradict, 
but who reflect, like the earth which receives 
all kinds of grain. 
And that which is false, not taking root, dies; 



And so, one may not say that he believes in truth, 
but rather that it grows within him, having 
found nourishment. 
THE MOTHER: How do you know, if they love each 

other or not? 
Will do what I tell her. 
As for him, I know that he loves her, and you 

too know it. 

Yet the blockhead dares not speak to me. But 
I will give her to him if he wants her. So shall 
it be. 

No doubt that is as it should be. 
ANNE VERCORS: Have you nothing more to say? 
THE MOTHER: What, then? 
ANNE VERCORS: Very well, I will go seek him. 
THE MOTHER: What, seek him? Anne! 
ANNE VERCORS: I want everything to be settled 

at once. I will tell you why presently. 
THE MOTHER: What have you to tell me? 

-Anne, listen a moment. ... I fear. . . . 

Slept in my room this winter, while you were ill, 

and we talked at night in our beds. 
Surely he is an honest lad, and I love him like 
my own child, almost. 



He has no property, that is true, but he is a good 

ploughman, and comes of a good family. 
We could give them 
Our Demi-muids farm with the lower fields which 

are too far away for us. - - 1, too, wanted to 

speak to you of him. 
THE MOTHER: Well, nothing. 

No doubt Violaine is the eldest. 
ANNE VERCORS: Come, come, what then? 
THE MOTHER: What then? How do you know surely 

that he loves her ? - -Our old friend, Master Pierre, 
(Why did he keep away from us this time without 

seeing anybody?) 

You saw him last year when he came, 
And how he looked at her while she served us. 

Certainly he has no land, but he earns much 


-And she, while he spoke, 
How she listened to him, with her eyes wide 

open like a child's, 
Forgetting to pour the drink for us, so that I 

had to scold her! 
And Mara, you know her. You know how 

hard-headed she is! 
If she has a notion then 
That she will marry Jacques, heigh-ho! She 

is hard as iron. 



I don't know! Perhaps it would be better . . . 
ANNE VERCORS: What is all this nonsense? 
THE MOTHER: Very well! Very well! we can talk 

like that. You must not get angry. 
ANNE VERCORS: It is my will. 
Jacques shall marry Violaine. 
THE MOTHER: Well! he shall marry her then. 
ANNE VERCORS: And now, mother, I have some- 
thing else to tell you, poor old woman! I am 

going away. 
THE MOTHER: You are going away? You are 

going away, old man? What is that you say? 
ANNE VERCORS: That is why Jacques must marry 

Violaine without delay, and take my place 

THE MOTHER: Lord! You are going away! You 

mean it ? And where are you going ? 
ANNE VERCORS (pointing vaguely toward the south): 

Down there. 

THE MOTHER: To Chateau? 
ANNE VERCORS: Farther than Chateau. 
THE MOTHER (lowering her voice}: To Bourges, to 

the other King? 

ANNE VERCORS: To the King of Kings, to Jerusalem. 
THE MOTHER: Lord! (She sits down. 

Is it because France is not good enough for you? 
ANNE VERCORS: There is too much sorrow in 




THE MOTHER: But we are very comfortable here 
and nobody troubles Rheims. 

ANNE VERCORS: That is it. 

THE MOTHER: That is what? 

ANNE VERCORS: The very thing; we are too happy, 
And the others not happy enough. 

THE MOTHER: Anne, that is not our fault. 

ANNE VERCORS: It is not theirs either. 

THE MOTHER: I don't know. I know that you 
are there and that I have two children. 

ANNE VERCORS: But you see, surely, that every- 
thing is upset and put out of its right place, 
and everybody seeks distractedly to find where 
that place is. 

And the smoke we see sometimes in the dis- 
tance is not merely the smoke of burning 
And these crowds of poor people who come to 

us from every side. 

There is no longer a King reigning over France, 
according to the prediction of the prophet. 1 

1 " i For, behold the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem 
and from Judah, the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the 
whole stay of water. 

" 2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and 
the prudent, and the ancient. 

"3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and 
the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. 

" 4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over 
them." Isaiah iii, 1-5. 



THE MOTHER: That is what you read to us the 

other day? 
ANNE VERCORS: In the place of the King we have 

two children. 

The English one, in his island, 
And the other one, so little that among the reeds 

of the Loire he cannot be seen. 
In place of the Pope we have three Popes, and 

instead of Rome, I don't know what council or 

other in Switzerland. 
All is struggling and moving, 
Having no longer any counterweight to steady 

THE MOTHER: And you, also, where do you want to 


ANNE VERCORS: I can no longer stay here. 
THE MOTHER: Anne, have I done anything to grieve 


ANNE VERCORS: No, my Elisabeth. 
THE MOTHER: Here you abandon me in my old age. 
ANNE VERCORS: Give me leave to go, yourself. 
THE MOTHER: You do not love me any more and 

you are no longer happy with me. 
ANNE VERCORS: I am weary of being happy. 
THE MOTHER: Scorn not the gift which God has 

given you. 

ANNE VERCORS: God be praised who has over- 
whelmed me with his goodness! 



For these thirty years now I have held this sacred 
fief from my father, and God has sent rain 
on my furrows. 
For ten years there has not been one hour of 

my work 

That he has not repaid four times over and more, 
As if it were not his will to keep open his account 

with me, or leave anything owing. 
All else perished, yet I was spared. 
So that I shall appear before him empty and with- 
out a claim, among those who have received 
their reward. 
THE MOTHER: It is enough to have a grateful 

ANNE VERCORS: But I am not satisfied with his 

And because I have received them, shall I leave 

the greater good to others? 
THE MOTHER: I do not understand you. 
ANNE VERCORS: Which receives more, the full or 

the empty vessel? 

And which has need of the most water, the cis- 
tern or the spring? 
THE MOTHER: Ours is nearly dried up by this long 

hot summer. 

ANNE VERCORS: Such has been the evil of this 
world, that each has wanted to enjoy his own 
as if it had been created for him, 



And not at all as if he had received it by the 

will of God, 

The lord his estate, the father his children, 
The King his Kingdom and the scholar his rank. 
That is why God has taken away from them all 

these things which can be taken away, 
And has sent to each man deliverance and 


And why is the portion of others not mine also? 
THE MOTHER: You have your duty here with us. 
ANNE VERCORS: Not if you will absolve me from it. 
THE MOTHER: I will not absolve you. 
ANNE VERCORS: You see that what I had to do is 

The two children are reared, and Jacques is 

there to take my place. 

THE MOTHER: Who calls you far away from us? 
ANNE VERCORS (smiling): An angel blowing a 


THE MOTHER: What trumpet? 
ANNE VERCORS: The soundless trumpet that is 

heard by all. 

The trumpet that calls all men from time to time 

that the portions may be distributed afresh. 

The trumpet in the valley of Jehosaphat before 

it has made a sound, 

That of Bethlehem when Augustus numbered the 



The trumpet of the Assumption, when the apostles 

were assembled. 
The voice which takes the place of the Word 

when the Chief no longer speaks 
To the body that seeks union with him. 
THE MOTHER: Jerusalem is so far away! 
ANNE VERCORS: Paradise is still farther. 
THE MOTHER: God in the tabernacle is with us 

even here. 

ANNE VERCORS: But not that great hole in the earth. 
THE MOTHER: What hole? 
ANNE VERCORS: That the Cross made when it 

was set there. 

Behold how it draws everything to itself. 
There is the stitch which cannot be undone, the 

knot which cannot be untied, 
The heritage of all, the interior boundary stone 

that can never be uprooted, 

The centre and the navel of the world, the ele- 
ment by which all humanity is held together. 
THE MOTHER: What can one pilgrim alone do? 
ANNE VERCORS: I am not alone! A great multi- 
tude rejoice and depart with me! 
The multitude of all my dead, 
Those souls, one above the other, of whom nothing 
is left now but the tombstones, all those stones 
baptized with me who claim their rightful 
place in the structure! 



And as it is true that the Christian is never alone, 

but is in communion with all his brothers, 

The whole kingdom is with me, invoking, and 

drawing near to the Seat of God, taking anew 

its course toward him, 

And I am its deputy and I carry it with me 
To lay it once again upon the eternal Pattern. 
THE MOTHER: Who knows but that we shall need 

you here? 
ANNE VERCORS: Who knows but that I am needed 

elsewhere ? 
Everything is shaking; who knows but that I 

obstruct God's plan by remaining here 
Where the need there was of me is past ? 
THE MOTHER: I know you are an inflexible man. 
ANNE VER.CORS (tenderly, changing his voice} : To me 
you are always young and beautiful, and very 
great is the love I feel for my black-haired 
sweet Elisabeth. 

THE MOTHER: My hair is grey! 
ANNE VERCORS: Say yes, Elisabeth. . . . 
THE MOTHER: Anne, you have not left me in all 
these thirty years. What will become of me 
without my chief and my companion? 
ANNE VERCORS: . . . The yes which will separate 

us now, very low, 

As round as the oui that formerly made us one. 




THE MOTHER (speaking very low) : Yes, Anne. 
ANNE VERCORS: Have patience, Zabillet! I shall 

soon return. 
Can you not have faith in me a little while, though 

I am not here! 

Soon will come another separation. 
Come, put food for two days in a bag. It is 

time I was off. 

THE MOTHER: What? To-day, even to-day? 
ANNE VERCORS: Even to-day. 

(Her head droops and she does not move. 
He takes her in his arms but she does 
not respond. 
Farewell, Elisabeth. 
THE MOTHER: Alas, old man, I shall never see you 

ANNE VERCORS: And now I must seek Jacques. 


Act One: Scene Two 

(Enter MARA. 
MARA to THE MOTHER: Go, and tell him she is 

not to marry him. 
THE MOTHER: Mara! How is this? You were 

there ? 
MARA: Go, I tell you, and tell him she is not to 

marry him. 
THE MOTHER: What, she? What, he? What do 

you know of her marrying him ? 
MARA: I was there. I heard it all. 
THE MOTHER: Very well, my child! Your father 

wishes it. 
You have seen I did what I could, and his mind 

is not changed. 
MARA: Go and tell him that she is not to marry 

him, or I will kill myself! 
MARA: I will hang myself in the wood-house, there 

where we found the cat hung. 
MOTHER: Mara! Wicked girl! 
MARA: There again she has taken him away from 

me! Now she has taken him away! 
It was always I who was to be his wife, and not 

She knows very well it is I. 

38 v 


THE MOTHER: She is the eldest. 

MARA: What does that matter? 

THE MOTHER: It is your father who wishes it. 

MARA: I don't care. 

THE MOTHER: Jacques Hury 

Loves her. 
MARA: That is not true! I know well enough 

that you do not love me! 

You have always loved her best! Oh, when you 

talk of your Violaine it is like talking of sugar, 

It is like sucking a cherry just when you are about 

to spit out the stone! 
But Mara the magpie! She is as hard as iron, 

she is as sour as the wild cherry! 
Added to that, there's always the talk of your 

Violaine being so beautiful! 
And behold, she is now to have Combernon! 
What does she know how to do, the ferret? 

which of us two can drive the cart? 
She thinks herself like Saint Onzemillevierges ! 
But, as for me, I am Mara Vercors, who hates 
injustice and deceit, 
Mara who speaks the truth and it is that which 

makes the servants angry! 

Let them be angry! I scorn them. Not one of 
the women dares stir in my presence, the hypo- 
crites! Everything goes as smoothly as at the 



-And yet everything is for her and nothing 

for me. 

THE MOTHER: You will have your share. 
MARA: Aye, truly! The sandy ground up yonder! 

ooze and mud that it needs five oxen to plough! 

the bad ground of Chinchy. 
THE MOTHER: It brings in good profit all the 

MARA: Surely. 

Long-rooted reeds and cow-wheat, senna, and 


I shall have enough to make my herb-tea. 
THE MOTHER: Bad girl; you know well enough 

that is not true! 

You know well no wrong is done you ! 
But you have always been wicked! When you 

were little 

You would not cry when you were beaten. 
Tell me, you black-skinned child, you ugly one! 
Is she not the eldest? 
What have you against her? 
Jealous girl! Yet she has always done what you 

Very well! She will be married first, and you 

will be married, you also, afterwards! 
And it is too late to do differently anyhow, be- 
cause your father is going away oh, how sad 

I am! 



He has gone to speak to Violaine and he will 

look for Jacques. 
MARA: That's true! Go at once! Go, go at 


THE MOTHER: Go where? 
MARA: Mother, come now! You know well I 

am the one. Tell him she is not to marry him, 


THE MOTHER: Surely I shall do no such thing. 
MARA: Only tell him what I have said. Tell him 

that I will kill myself. Do you understand? 

(She looks fixedly at her. 
MARA : Do you believe I will not do it ? 
THE MOTHER: Alack, I know you would! 
MARA: Go then! 

MARA: You have nothing to do with it. 

Only to repeat to him just what I have 

THE MOTHER: And he how do you know he will 

be willing to marry you? 
MARA: Certainly he will not. 
THE MOTHER: Well. . . . 
MARA: Well? 
THE MOTHER: Don't think that I shall advise him 

to do your will!- -on the contrary! 


I will only tell him what you have said. It is 

very sure 
That she will not be so silly as to give in to you, 

if she will listen to me. 
MARA: Perhaps. Go. Do as I say. 

(She goes out. 


Act One: Scene Three 

afterwards VIOLAINE, and then the farm 
labourers and servants. 

ANNE VERCORS (stopping): Heh! what is that thou 

tell'st me? 

JACQUES HURY: Just as I say! This time I took 
him in the act, with the pruning-hook in his 

I came up softly behind him and all of a sudden 
Flac! I threw myself full length on him, 
As you throw yourself on a hare in her hole at 


And there beside him was a bunch of twenty 
young poplars, the ones you set such store 

ANNE VERCORS: Why did he not come to me? 

I should have given him the wood he needed. 

JACQUES HURY: The wood he needs is the handle 

of my whip! 
It is not need but wickedness, the idea of doing 

wrong ! 

These ne'er-do-wells from Chevoche are always 
ready to do anything 



Out of bravado, and to defy people! 

But as to that man, I will cut off his ears with 

my little knife! 
JACQUES HURY: At least let me tie him by his 

wrists to the harrow, before the big gate, 
With his face turned against the teeth; with 

Faraud the dog to watch him. 
ANNE VERCORS: Not that either. 
JACQUES HURY: What is to be done then? 
ANNE VERCORS: Send him home. 
JACQUES HURY: With his bundle of wood? 
ANNE VERCORS: And with another that thou wilt 

give him. 

JACQUES HURY: Father, that is not right. 
ANNE VERCORS: Thou canst tie his faggot around, 

that he may not lose any of it. 
That will help him in crossing the ford at Saponay. 
JACQUES HURY: It is not well to be lax about one's 


ANNE VERCORS: I know it, it is not well! 
Jacques, behold how lazy and old I am, weary 

of fighting and defending. 
Once I was harsh like thee. 

There is a time to take and a time to let take. 
The budding tree must be protected, but the 
tree where the fruit hangs do not trouble 
thyself about. 



Let us be unjust in very little, lest God be un- 
just to me in much. 

And besides, thou wilt do now as thou wilt, 
for thou art placed over Combernon in my 

JACQUES HURY: What do you say? 

THE MOTHER: He is going a pilgrim to Jerusalem. 

JACQUES HURY: Jerusalem? 

ANNE VERCORS: It is true. I start this very 

JACQUES HURY: What? What does that mean? 

ANNE VERCORS: Thou hast heard very well. 

JACQUES HURY: Thou wilt leave us like that, when 
the work is at its heaviest? 

ANNE VERCORS: It is not necessary to have two 
masters at Combernon. 

JACQUES HURY: My father, I am only your son! 

ANNE VERCORS: Thou wilt be the father here, 
in my stead. 

JACQUES HURY: I do not understand you. 

ANNE VERCORS: I am going away. Take Com- 
bernon from me 

As I took it from my father, and he from his, 
And Radulphe the Frank, first of our line, from 

Saint Remy de Rheims, 

Who from Genevieve of Paris received this land, 
pagan and bristling with seedlings and wild 



Radulphe and his children made it Christian by 

iron and by fire 
And laid it naked and broken under the waters 

of baptism. 

Hill and plain scored they with equal furrows, 
As an industrious scholar copies line after line 

the word of God. 
And they began to build Monsanvierge on the 

mountain, in that place where Evil was wor- 
(And at first there was naught but a cabin made 

of logs and reeds, whose door the Bishop came 

to seal, 

And two holy recluses were left to guard it), 
And at the mountain's base, Combernon, a dwelling 

armed and provisioned. 
Thus this land is free that we hold from St. 

Remy in heaven, paying tithes up there to 

this flight, one moment stayed, of murmuring 

For everything is of God, and those who live in 

Him reap without ceasing the fruits of their 

Which pass and come back to us again in their 

time in magnificent succession; 
As over the various harvests every day in summer 

float those great clouds that drift toward 



The cattle here are never sick, the udders and 
the wells are never dry; the grain is as solid 
as gold, the straw as firm as iron. 

And for defence against pillagers we have arms, 
and the walls of Combernon, and the King, 
our neighbor. 

Gather this harvest that I have sown, as in the 
past I myself have filled again the furrows my 
father ploughed. 

joyful work of the farmer, for which the sun 
is as bright as our glistening ox, and the rain 
is our banker, and God works with us every 
day, making of everything the best! 

Others look to men for their rewards, but we 
receive ours straight from heaven itself, 

A hundred for one, the full ear for a seed, and 
the tree for a nut. 

For such is the justice of God to us, and the 
measure with which He repays us. 

The earth cleaves to the sky, the body to the 
spirit, all things that He has created are in 
communion, all have need of one another. 

Take the handles of the plough in my stead, that 
the earth may bring forth bread as God him- 
self has wished. 

Give food to all creatures, men and animals, to 
spirits and bodies, and to immortal souls. 

You, women, labourers, look! Behold the son 



I have chosen, Jacques! I am going away and 

he stays in my place. Obey him. 
JACQUES HURY: May it be done according to your 

ANNE VERCORS: Violaine! 

My child, first born instead of the son I have 

not had! 
Heir of my name in whom I too shall be given 

to another! 
Violaine, when thou shalt have a husband, do not 

scorn the love of thy father. 
For thou canst not give back to a father what 

he has given thee, when thou wouldst. 
Between husband and wife everything is equal; 

what they do not know they accept, one from 

the other, with faith. 
This is the mutual religion, this is the servitude 

through which the wife's breast grows large 

with milk! 
But the father, seeing his children separate from 

him, recognizes what was once within him- 
self. My daughter, know thy father! 
A Father's love 
Asks no return, and the child has no need either 

to win or merit it: 

As it was his before the beginning, so it remains 
His blessing and his inheritance, his help, his 

honour, his right, his justification! 


My soul is never divided from the soul I have 

What I have given can never be given back. Only 

know, O my child, that I am thy father! 
And of my issue there is no male. Only women 

have I brought into the world. 
Nothing but that thing in us which gives and 

which is given. 

-And now the hour of parting is come. 
VIOLAINE: Father! Do not say such a cruel thing! 
ANNE VERCORS: Jacques, you are the man whom I 
love. Take her! I give you my daughter, 
Violaine. Take my name from her. 
Love her, for she is as pure as gold. 
All the days of thy life, like bread, of which one 

never tires. 

She is simple and obedient, sensitive and re- 
Do not cause her any sorrow, and give her only 


Everything here is thine, except what will be 

given to Mara, in accordance with my plan. 

JACQUES HURY: What, my father, your daughter, 

your property . . . 
ANNE VERCORS: I give you all at once, as all is 


JACQUES HURY: But who knows if she still cares 
for me? 



ANNE VERCORS: Who knows? 

(She looks at JACQUES and forms "Yes >: 

with her lips, without speaking. 
JACQUES HURY: You care for me, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: My father wishes it. 
JACQUES HURY: You wish it too? 
VIOLAINE: I wish it too. 
JACQUES HURY: Violaine! 

How shall we get on together? 
VIOLAINE: Consider well while there is yet time! 
JACQUES HURY: Then I take you by God's com- 
mand, and I will nevermore let you go. 

(He takes her by both hands. 

I have you and hold you, your hand and the 

arm with it, and all that comes with the arm. 

Parents, your daughter is no longer yours! She 

is mine only! 
ANNE VERCORS: Well, they are married; it is done! 

What say you, mother? 

THE MOTHER: I am very glad! (She weeps. 

ANNE VERCORS: She weeps, my wife! 

There! that is how they take our children from 

us and we shall be left alone, 
The old woman who lives on a little milk and a 

small bit of cake, 
And the old man with his ears full of white hairs 

like the heart of an artichoke. 
Let them make ready the wedding-dress! 



-Children, I shall not be at your wedding. 
VIOLAINE: What, father! 
ANNE VERCORS: I am going. Now. 
VIOLAINE: O father! before we are married. 
ANNE VERCORS: It must be. Your mother will 
explain all to you. (Enter MARA. 

THE MOTHER: How long shall you stay over there? 
ANNE VERCORS: I do not know. It may be but 

a short time. 

I shall soon be coming back. (Silence. 

VOICE OF A CHILD (in the distance): Oriole, oriole! 

all alone! 

Who eats the wild cherry and throws out the stone! 
ANNE VERCORS: The oriole, rosy and golden, whistles 

in the heart of the tree. 
What does he say? that after these long days of 

The rain last night was like a shower of gold 

falling upon the earth. 
What does he say? he says it is good weather 

for ploughing. 

What more does he say? that the weather is fine, 
that God is great, and that it is still two hours 
of noon. 

What more does the little bird say? 
That it is time for the old man to go 
Elsewhere, and leave the world to itself. 



Jacques, I leave to you all my property, 

protect these women. 

JACQUES HURY: What, are you really going? 
ANNE VERCORS: I believe he has heard nothing. 
JACQUES HURY: Like that, right away? 
ANNE VERCORS : The hour is come. 
THE MOTHER: You will not go without first eating? 
(During this time the women servants have 

prepared the table for the farm meal. 
ANNE VERCORS: (to a woman servant): Ho! my bag, 

my hat! 

Bring my shoes! bring my cloak! 
I have not time enough to share this meal with 


THE MOTHER: Anne! How long wilt thou stay 
over there? One year, two years? More than 
two years? 
ANNE VERCORS: One year. Two years. Yes, that 

is it. 
Put on my shoes. 

(THE MOTHER kneels before him and puts on 

his shoes. 

For the first time I leave thee, O house! 
Combernon, lofty dwelling! 
Watch faithfully over it all! Jacques will be 

here in my stead. 

There is the hearth where there is always fire, there 
is the long table where I give food to my people. 



All take your places! Just once more I will cut 
the bread. . . . 

(He seats himself at the head of the long 
table, with THE MOTHER at his right. 
All the men and women servants stand, 
each at his place. 

He takes the bread, making the sign of the 
cross above it with the knife, and cuts it; 
and gives it to VIOLAINE and MARA to 
pass. The last piece he keeps himself. 
Then he turns solemnly toward THE MOTHER 
and opens his arms. 
Farewell, Elisabeth! 
THE MOTHER (weeping in his arms) : Thou wilt 

never see me more. 

ANNE VERCORS (in a lower tone) : Farewell, Elisa- 

(He turns toward MARA, looks gravely at 
her for a long time, and then holds out his 
hand to her. 

Farewell, Mara! be virtuous. 
MARA (kissing his hand): Farewell, father! 

(Silence. ANNE VERCORS stands, looking 
before him as if he did not see VIOLAINE, who 
stands full of agitation at his side. At 
last he turns slightly toward her, and she 
puts her arms around his neck, sobbing, 
with her face against his breast. 



ANNE VERCORS (to the men servants, as if be noticed 

nothing): Farewell, all! 
I have always dealt justly by you. If any one 

denies this, he lies. 

I am not like other masters. But I praise when 
praise is due, and I reprove when reproof is 
Now that I am going away, do your duty as if 

I were there. 

For I shall return. I shall return some time 
when you do not expect me. 

(He shakes hands with them all. 
Let my horse be brought! 

(Silence. He leans toward VIOLAINE, who 

continues to embrace him. 
What is it, little child? 

You have exchanged a husband for thy father. 
VIOLAINE: Alas! Father! Alas! 

(He removes her hands gently from around 

his neck. 

THE MOTHER: Tell me when will you return. 
ANNE VERCORS: I cannot tell. 

Perhaps it will be in the morning, perhaps at 

mid-day, when you are eating. 
And perhaps, awaking some night, you will hear 

my step on the road. 
Farewell ! (He goes. 


Act Two: Scene One 

A fortnight later. The beginning of July. Noon. 

A large orchard planted with regular rows of round 
trees. Higher, and a little withdrawn, the wall and 
towers and long buildings with tiled roofs of Combernon. 
Then, the side of the hill, which rises abruptly, and on 
its summit the massive stone arch of Monsanvierge, 
without door or window, with its five towers like those 
of the Cathedral of Laon, and in its side the great white 
scar made for the recent entrance of the Queen Mother 
of France. 

Everything vibrates under an ardent sun. 

A WOMAN'S VOICE on high, from the height of the 
highest tower of Monsanvierge. 











(Long pause during which the stage remains 

(Enter THE MOTHER and MARA. 
MARA: What did she say? 

THE MOTHER: I drew her out as we talked, with- 
out seeming to. You see how she has lost 
her gay spirits these last few days. 
MARA: She never talks much. 
THE MOTHER: But she does not laugh any more. 

That troubles me. 
Perhaps it is because Jacquin is away, but he 

returns to-day. 
And her father too is gone. 
MARA: That is all thou said to her? 
THE MOTHER: That is what I said to her, and 
the rest of it without changing a word, just as 
you said it to me: Jacquin and you: that you 
love him and all. 

And I added, and I said it over two or three 
times, that this time she must not be foolish, 
and not resist at all, 
Or break off the marriage, which is as good as 

made, against the father's will. 
What would people think of it? 
MARA: And what did she answer? 
THE MOTHER: She began to laugh, and I, I began 
to cry. 



MARA: I will make her laugh! 

THE MOTHER: It was not the laughter I love of 

my little girl, and I began to cry. 
And I said, 'No, no, Violaine, my child!' not 

knowing any longer what I said. 
But she, without speaking, made a sign with her 

hand that she wanted to be alone. 
Ah! what misery we have with our children! 
MARA: Hush! 
THE MOTHER: What is it? 

I am sorry for what I have done. 
MARA: Well! Do you see her down there in the 
paddock? She is walking behind the trees. 
Now she is out of sight. 

(Silence. From behind the scene is heard 

the blast of a horn. 
THE MOTHER: There is Jacquin come back. I 

know the sound of his horn. 
MARA: Let us go further off. (They move off. 


Act Two: Scene Two 

JACQUES HURY (looking all around) : I don't see 


And yet she sent word 
That she wanted to see me this morning, 

(Enter MARA. She advances to JACQUES, 
and at six paces before him drops a cere- 
monious courtesy. 

JACQUES HURY: Good morning, Mara. 
MARA: My lord, your servant! 
JACQUES HURY: What is this foolery? 
MARA: Do I not owe you respect? Are you not 
the master here, dependent only upon God, 
like the King of France himself and the Em- 
peror Charlemagne? 

JACQUES HURY: Jest if you like, but it is true 
all the same! Yes, Mara, it is glorious! Dear 
sister, I am too happy ! 
MARA: I am not your dear sister! I am your 

servant because I must be. 
Man of Braine! son of a serf! I am not your 

sister; you are not of our blood! 
JACQUES HURY: I am the husband of Violaine. 



MARA: You are not that yet. 

JACQUES HURY: I shall be to-morrow. 

MARA: Who knows? 

JACQUES HURY: Mara, I have thought deeply 

about it, 
And I believe you have only dreamed that story 

you told me the other day. 
MARA: What story? 
JACQUES HURY: Don't pretend not 10 know. 

That story about the mason, that secret kiss at 

MARA: It is possible. I did not see well. Yet 

I have good eyes. 
JACQUES HURY: And it has been whispered to me 

that the man is a leper! 
MARA: I do not love you, Jacques. 

But you have the right to know all. All must 

be pure and clear at Monsanvierge, which 

is held up like a monstrance before all the 

JACQUES HURY: All that will be explained in a 

MARA: You are clever and nothing can escape 

JACQUES HURY: I see at any rate that you don't 

love me. 
MARA: There! there! What did I say? what did 

I say? 



JACQUES HURY: Everybody here is not of your 

MARA: You speak of Violaine? I blush for that 

little girl. 

It is shameful to give oneself like that, 
Soul, body, heart, skin, the outside, the inside, 

and the root. 
JACQUES HURY: I know that she belongs entirely 

to me. 
MARA : Yes. 

How grandly he speaks! how sure he is of the 

things that belong to him! Brainard of Braine! 

Only those things belong to one that one has 

made, or taken, or earned. 
JACQUES HURY: But Mara, I like you, and I have 

nothing against you. 
MARA : Without doubt - like all the rest of the 

things here? 

JACQUES HURY: It is no fault of mine that you 
are not a man, and that I take your property 
from you! 
MARA: How proud and satisfied he is! Look at him, 

he can hardly keep from laughing! 
There now! don't do yourself harm! Laugh! 

(He laughs. 

I know your face well, Jacques. 
JACQUES HURY: You are angry because you cannot 
make me unhappy. 



MARA: Like the other day while the father was 

When one of your eyes smiled and the other 

wept - - without tears. 

JACQUES HURY: Am I not master of a fine estate? 
MARA: And the father was old, wasn't he? You 

know a thing or two more than he does? 
JACQUES HURY: To each man his day. 
MARA: That is true, Jacques, you are a tall and 

handsome young man. 
See him, how he blushes. 
JACQUES HURY: Don't torment me. 
MARA: All the same, it is a pity! 
JACQUES HURY: What is a pity? 
MARA: Farewell, husband of Violaine! Farewell, 

master of Monsanvierge - ah - ah! 
JACQUES HURY: I will show you that so I am. 
MARA: Then understand the spirit of this place, 

Brainard of Braine! 
He thinks that everything is his, like a peasant; 

you will be shown the contrary! 
Like a peasant who sees nothing higher than him- 
self as he stands in the midst of his flat little 

But Monsanvierge belongs to God, and the master 
of Monsanvierge is God's man, who has nothing 
For himself, having received everything for an- 



That is the lesson passed on here from father to 
son. There is no higher position than ours. 
Take on the spirit of your masters, peasant! 

(She makes as if to go and turns back. 

Violaine, when I met her, 
Gave me a message for you. 

JACQUES HURY: Why did you not say so sooner? 
MARA: She is waiting for you near the fountain. 


Act Two: Scene Three 

The fountain of the Adoue. It is a large square 
orifice cut in a vertical wall, built of blocks of limestone. 
A thin stream of water drips from it with a melan- 
choly sound. Thank-offerings of crosses made of straw 
and bouquets of faded flowers are hung on the wall. 

The fountain is surrounded with luxurious trees, and 
with a bower of rose-bushes whose abundant blossoms 
thickly star the green foliage. 

JACQUES HURY (he looks at VIOLAINE who comes 
along the winding path. She is all golden, and 
glows brilliantly at moments when the sun falls 
upon her between the leaves} : O my betrothed 
among the flowery branches, hail! 

(VIOLAINE enters and stands before him. She 

is clothed in a linen gown with a kind of 

dalmatic of cloth-of-gold decorated with 

large red and blue flowers. Her head is 

crowned with a diadem of enamel and gold. 

Violaine, how beautiful you are ! 

VIOLAINE: Jacques! Good morning, Jacques! Ah, 

how long you stayed down there! 
JACQUES HURY: I had to get rid of everything, and 

sell, in order to be perfectly free. 
To be the man of Monsanvierge only and yours. 



-What is this wonderful dress? 
VIOLAINE : I wore it for you. I had spoken to you 

about it. Do you not recognize it? 
It is the habit of the nuns of Monsanvierge, ex- 
cept only the maniple, the habit they wear 
in the choir, 

The deacon's dalmatic which they have the 
privilege of wearing, something priestly, as 
they themselves are holy sacrifices, 
And the women of Combernon have the right 

to wear it twice: 

First, on the day of their betrothal, 
Secondly, on the day of their death. 
JACQUES HURY: It is really true, then, that this is 

the day of our betrothal, Violaine ? 
VIOLAINE: Jacques, there is yet time, we are not 

married yet! 

If you have only wanted to please my father 

there is still time to withdraw; it concerns no 

one but us. Say but a word, and I would 

not want you any more, Jacques. 

For nothing has yet been put in writing, and 

I do not know if I still please you. 
JACQUES HURY: How beautiful you are, Violaine! 
And how beautiful is the world of which you 
are the portion reserved for me. 
VIOLAINE: It is you, Jacques, who are all that is 
best in the world. 


JACQUES HURY: Is it true that you are willing to 

belong to me? 

VIOLAINE: Yes, it is true! good morning, my be- 
loved! I am yours. 
JACQUES HURY: Good morning, my wife! Good 

morning, sweet Violaine! 

VIOLAINE: These are good things to hear, Jacques! 
JACQUES HURY: You must always be there! Tell 

me that you will always be the same, the angel 

who is sent to me! 
VIOLAINE: For evermore all that is mine shall 

always be yours. 

JACQUES HURY: And as for me, Violaine. . . . 
VIOLAINE: Say nothing. I ask you nothing. You 

are there, and that is enough for me. Good 

morning, Jacques! 
Ah, how beautiful this hour is, and I ask for 

nothing more. 
JACQUES HURY: To-morrow will be still more 

VIOLAINE: To-morrow I shall have taken off my 

gorgeous robe. 
JACQUES HURY: But you will be so near to me that 

I shall no longer be able to see you. 
VIOLAINE : Very near to you indeed ! 
JACQUES HURY: Your place is ready. 

Violaine, what a solitary spot this is, and how 

secretly I am here with you! 



VIOLAINE (in a low tone) : Your heart is enough. 

Go to, I am with you, and say not a word more. 
JACQUES HURY: But to-morrow, before everybody, 

I will take this Queen in my arms. 
VIOLAINE : Take her, and do not let her go. 

Ah, take your little one with you so that they 

can never find her, and never do her any harm! 
JACQUES HURY: And you will not regret then the 

linen and the gold? 
VIOLAINE: Was I wrong to make myself beautiful 

for one poor little hour? 
JACQUES HURY: No, my beautiful lily, I can never 

tire of looking at you in your glory! 
VIOLAINE: O Jacques! tell me again that you 

think me beautiful! 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine! 
VIOLAINE: The most beautiful of all, and the other 

women are nothing to you? 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE : And that you love me only, as the tender- 

est husband loves the poor creature who has 

given herself to him? 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: Who gives herself to him with all her 

heart, Jacques, believe me, and holds nothing 

JACQUES HURY: And you, Violaine, do you not 

believe me then? 



VIOLAINE: I believe you, I believe you, Jacques! 

I believe in you! I have confidence in you, 

my darling! 
JACQUES HURY: Why, then, do you seem troubled 

and frightened ? 

Show me your left hand. (She shows it. 

My ring is gone. 
VIOLAINE: I will explain that to you presently, 

you will be satisfied. 
JACQUES HURY: I am satisfied, Violaine. I have 

faith in you. 
VIOLAINE: I am more than a ring, Jacques. I 

am a great treasure. 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE : Ah, if I give myself to you, 

Will you not know how to save your little one 

who loves you ? 

JACQUES HURY: There you are doubting me again. 
VIOLAINE: Jacques! After all I do no harm in 

loving you. It is God's will, and my father's. 
It is you who have charge of me! And who 

knows if you will not know perfectly how to 

defend and save me? 
It is enough that I give myself entirely to you. 

The rest is your affair, and no longer mine. 
JACQUES HURY: And is it like this you give your- 
self to me, my flower-o'-the-sun ? 
VIOLAINE: Yes, Jacques. 


JACQUES HURY: Who then can take you out of my 

arms ? 
VIOLAINE: Ah, how big the world is, and how 

alone we are! 
JACQUES HURY: Poor child! I know that your 

father is gone. 

And I too no longer have anyone with me to 
tell me what should be done, and what is good 
or ill. 

You must help me, Violaine, as I love you. 
VIOLAINE: My father has abandoned me. 
JACQUES HURY: But I remain to you, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: Neither my mother nor my sister love 

me, though I have done them no wrong. 
And nothing is left to me but this tall, terrible 
man whom I do not know. 

(He tries to take her in his arms. She 

pushes him away quickly. 
Do not touch me, Jacques! 
JACQUES HURY: Am I then a leper? 
VIOLAINE: Jacques, I want to speak to you 

ah, but it is hard! 

Do not fail me, who now have only you! 
JACQUES HURY: Who would do you harm? 
VIOLAINE: Know what you do in taking me for 

your wife! 

Let me speak to you very humbly, my lord 



Who are about to receive my soul and my body 

from the hands of God according to his com- 
mand, and my father's who made them. 
And know the dowry I bring to you which is not 

like those of other women, 
But this holy mountain wrapped in prayer day 

and night before God, like an altar smoking 

And this lamp whose light is never suffered to 

go out, and whose oil it is our duty to replenish. 
And no man is witness to our marriage, but that 

Lord whose fief we alone hold, 
Who is the Omnipotent, the God of the Armies. 
And it is not the sun of July that lights us, but 

the light of his countenance. 
To the holy be the holy things! Who knows if 

our heart be pure? 
Never until now has a male been lacking to our 

race, and always the sacred place has been 

handed down from father to son, 
And behold, for the first time it falls into the 

hands of a woman, and becomes with her 

the object of desire. 
JACQUES HURY: Violaine no: I am not a scholar 

nor a monk nor a saint. 
I am not the lay-servant of Monsanvierge, nor 

the keeper of its turning-box. 
I have a duty and I will perform it, 



Which is to feed these murmuring birds, 

And to fill each morning the basket they lower 
from the sky. 

That is written down. That is right. 

I have understood that, and I have fixed it in 
my head, and you must not ask any more 
of me. 

You must not ask me to understand what is 
above me, and why these holy women have 
imprisoned themselves up there in that pigeon- 

To the heavenly be heaven, and the earth to the 

For the wheat will not grow by itself, and a good 
ploughman is necessary. 

And I can say without boasting that such I am, 
and no one can teach me that, not even your 
father himself perhaps, 

For he was old and set in his ways. 

To each one his own place, and that is justice. 

And your father, in giving you to me, 

Together with Monsanvierge, knew what he was 

doing, and that was just. 

VIOLAINE: But Jacques, I do not love you be- 
cause it is just. 

And even if it were not just, I would love you 

the same, and more. 
JACQUES HURY: I do not understand you, Violaine. 



VIOLAINE: Jacques, do not make me speak! You 
love me so much, and I can only do you harm. 
Let me alone! there cannot be justice between 
us two! but only faith and charity. Go away 
from me while there is yet time. 
JACQUES HURY: I do not understand, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: My beloved, do not force me to tell 

you my great secret. 
JACQUES HURY: A great secret, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: So great that all is over, and you will 

not ask to marry me any more. 
JACQUES HURY: I do not understand you. 
VIOLAINE: Am I not beautiful enough just now, 

Jacques ? What more do you ask of me ? 
What does one ask of a flower 
Except to be beautiful and fragrant for a moment, 

poor flower, and then the end. 
The flower's life is short, but the joy it has given 

for a minute 
Is not of those things which have a beginning 

and an end. 

Am I not beautiful enough? Is something lack- 
ing? Ah! I see thine eyes, my beloved! Is 
there anything in thee at this moment that 
does not love me, and that doubts me ? 
Is my soul not enough? Take it, and I am still 
here, and absorb to its depths that which is 
all thine! 


To die requires but a moment, and to die in 
each other would not annihilate us more than 
love, and does one need to live when one is 

What more wouldst thou do with me? Fly, take 
thyself away! Why dost thou wish to marry 
me? Why dost thou wish 

To take for thyself what belongs only to God ? 

The hand of God is upon us, and thou canst not 
defend me! 

Jacques, we shall never be husband and wife 
in this world! 

JACQUES HURY: Violaine, what are these strange 
words, so tender, so bitter? By what threat- 
ening and gloomy paths are you leading me? 

1 believe you wish to put me to the proof, and 
to triumph over me, who am but a simple and 
rough man. 

Ah! Violaine, how beautiful you are like this! 

and yet I am afraid, and I see you in clothing 

that terrifies me! 
For this is not a woman's dress, but the robe of 

one who offers the sacrifice at the altar, 
Of him who waits upon the priest, leaving the 

side uncovered and the arms free! 
Ah, I see, it is the spirit of Monsanvierge which 

lives in you, the supreme flower outside of this 

sealed garden! 



Ah, do not turn to me that face which is no 
longer of this world! that is no longer my 
dear Violaine. 

There are enough angels to serve the mass in 

Have pity on me, who am only a man without 
wings, who rejoiced in this companion God 
had given me, and that I should hear her sigh 
with her head resting on my shoulder! 

Sweet bird! the sky is beautiful, but it is beauti- 
ful too to be taken captive! 

And the sky is beautiful! but this is a beautiful 
thing too, and even worthy of God, the heart of 
a man that can be filled, leaving no part empty. 

Do not torment me by depriving me of your face! 

And no doubt I am a dull and ugly man, 

But I love you, my angel, my queen, my darling! 
VIOLAINE: So I have warned you in vain, and you 
want to take me for your wife, and you will 
not give up your plan? 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: When a man takes a woman for his 
wife they are then one soul in one body, and 
nothing will ever separate them. 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: You wish it! 

Then it is not right that I should reserve anything, 
or keep to myself any longer 



This great, this unspeakable secret. 
JACQUES HURY: Again this secret, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: So great, truly, Jacques, 

That your heart will be saturated with it, 

And you will ask nothing more of me, 

And that we shall never be torn apart from each 


A secret so deep 
That neither life, Jacques, nor hell, nor Heaven 


Will ever end it, or will ever end this 
Moment in which I have revealed it, here in the 

Heat of this terrible sun which almost prevents 

us from seeing each other! 
JACQUES HURY: Speak, then! 
VIOLAINE: But tell me first once more that you 

love me. 

JACQUES HURY: I love you! 
VIOLAINE: And that I am your wife and your 

only love? 

JACQUES HURY: My wife, my only love. 
VIOLAINE : Tell me, Jacques: neither my face nor my 
soul has sufficed thee, and that is not enough? 
And have you been misled by my proud words? 

Then learn of the fire which consumes me! 
Know this flesh which you have loved so much! 
Come nearer to me. (He comes nearer. 



Nearer! nearer still! close against my side. Sit 
down on that bench. (Silence. 

And give me your knife. 

(He gives her his knife. She cuts the linen 
of her gown, at her side upon the heart, 
under the left breast, and leaning towards 
him she opens the slit with her hands and 
shows him the flesh where the first spot of 
leprosy has appeared. Silence. 

JACQUES HURY (slightly turning away his face}: 
Give me the knife. 

(She gives it to him. Silence. Then Jacques 
moves a few steps away from her, half 
turning his back, and he does not look at 
her again until the end of the Act. 
JACQUES HURY: Violaine, I am not mistaken? 
What is this silver flower emblazoned 

on your flesh? 

VIOLAINE: You are not mistaken. 
JACQUES HURY: It is the malady? it is the malady, 

Violaine ? 

VIOLAINE: Yes, Jacques. 
VIOLAINE : Surely you are hard to convince. 

And you had to see it to believe. 
JACQUES HURY: And which leprosy is the most 

That of the soul or that of the body? 



VIOLAINE: I cannot say as to the other. I only 

know that of the body, which is bad enough. 
JACQUES HURY: No, you know not the other, 


VIOLAINE: I am not a reprobate. 
JACQUES HURY: Infamous woman, reprobate, 

Infamous in your soul and in your flesh! 
VIOLAINE: So you do not ask any more to marry 

me, Jacques? 

JACQUES HURY: Scoff no more, child of the devil! 
VIOLAINE : Such is that great love you had for me. 
JACQUES HURY: Such is this lily that I had chosen. 
VIOLAINE: Such is the man who takes the place 

of my father. 
JACQUES HURY: Such is the angel that God had 

sent me. 
VIOLAINE: Ah, who will tear us apart from each 

other? I love you, Jacques, and you will 

defend me, and I know that in thy arms I have 

nothing to fear. 
JACQUES HURY: Do not mock thyself with these 

horrible words! 
VIOLAINE: Tell me, 

Have I broken my word? My soul was not 

enough for thee? Have you enough now of 

my flesh? 
Will you forget henceforth your Violaine, and 

the heart she revealed to thee? 


JACQUES HURY: Go farther away from me! 
VIOLAINE: Go to, I am far enough away, Jacques; 

you have nothing to fear. 
JACQUES HURY: Yes, yes, 

Further than you were from that measled pig of 

yours ! 

That maker of bones whereon the flesh rots! 
VIOLAINE: Is it of Pierre de Craon that you speak? 
JACQUES HURY: It is of him I speak, him you kissed 

on the mouth. 

VIOLAINE: And who has told you that? 
JACQUES HURY: Mara saw you with her own eyes. 
And she has told me all, as it was her duty to do, 
And I, fool that I was, did not believe it! 
Come, confess it! confess it then! It is true! 

Say that it is true! 
VIOLAINE: It is true, Jacques. 

Mara always speaks the truth. 
JACQUES HURY: And it is true that you kissed him 

on the face? 
VIOLAINE: It is true. 

JACQUES HURY: O damned one! are the flames 
of hell so savory that you have thus lusted 
after them while you were still alive? 
VIOLAINE (speaking very low] : No, not damned. 
But sweet, sweet Violaine! sweet, sweet Violaine! 
JACQUES HURY: And you do not deny that this 
man had you and possessed you ? 



VIOLAINE: I deny nothing, Jacques. 

JACQUES HURY: But I love you still, Violaine! 

Ah, this is too cruel! 
Tell me something, even if you have nothing to 

say, and I will believe it! Speak, I beg you! 

tell me it is not true! 
VIOLAINE: I cannot turn all black in a minute, 

Jacques; but in a few months, a few months 


You will not recognize me any longer. 
JACQUES HURY: Tell me that all this is not true. 
VIOLAINE: Mara always speaks the truth, and then 

there is that flower upon my body that you 

have seen. 

JACQUES HURY: Farewell, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: Farewell, Jacques. 
JACQUES HURY: Tell me, what shall you do, wretched 

woman ? 
VIOLAINE: Take off this robe. Leave this house. 

Fulfil the law. Show myself to the priest. 

Go to ... 

VIOLAINE: . . . the place set apart for people 

like me. 

The lazar-house of the Geyn, over there. 
VIOLAINE: To-day this very evening. 

(Long silence. 



There is nothing else to be done. 
JACQUES HURY: We must avoid any scandal. 

Go, take off your robe and put on a travelling 
dress, and I will tell you what it is right to 
do. (They go out. 


Act Two: Scene Four 

The kitchen at Combernon, as in ACT I 

THE MOTHER: Every day the weather is fine. 
It has not rained for eight days. (She listens. 

Now and then I hear the bells of Arcy. 
Dong ! Dong ! 

How warm it is, and how large everything looks! 
What is Violaine doing? and Jacques? What 

have they to talk about so long? 
I am sorry for what I said to her (She sighs. 

And what is the crazy old man doing? Where 

is he now? 

Ah! (She bows her head. 

MARA (entering quickly) : They are coming here. I 

think the marriage is broken off. Do you hear 


Be silent, 
And say nothing. 

O wicked girl! wretch! You have got what 

you wished for! 
MARA: Let it alone. It is only for a moment. 

There was no other way 
It could be done. So, now it is I 



He must marry and not she. It will be better 
for her like that. It must be thus. Do you 
Be silent! 

THE MOTHER: Who told you that? 
MARA: Was there need for me to be told? I saw 

it all in their faces. 
I came upon them all warm. I understood 

everything in no time at all. 
And Jacques, poor fellow, I pity him. 
THE MOTHER: I am sorry for what I said! 
MARA: You have said nothing; you know nothing 

be silent! 
And if they say anything to you, no matter what 

they tell you, 
Agree with them, do everything they wish. There 

is nothing more to do. 
THE MOTHER: I hope all is for the best. 


Act Two: Scene Five 

(Enter JACQUES HURY, then VIOLAINE all in 

black, dressed as for a journey. 
THE MOTHER: What is the matter, Jacques? What 

is the matter, Violaine? 
Why have you put on this dress, as if you were 

going away? 

VIOLAINE: I, too, am going away. 
THE MOTHER: Going away? You going away, too? 

Jacques ! what has happened between you ? 
JACQUES HURY: Nothing has happened. 

But you know that I went to see my mother at 

Braine, and have only just returned. 

JACQUES HURY: You know, she is old and feeble. 
She says she wishes to see and bless 
Her daughter-in-law before she dies. 
THE MOTHER: Can she not come to the wedding? 
JACQUES HURY: She is ill, she cannot wait. 

And this harvest time, too, when there is so 

much to be done 
Is not the time to be married. 
We have just been talking about it, Violaine 
and I, just now, very pleasantly, 



And we have decided that it is best to wait till 
The autumn. 

Until then she will stay at Braine with my mother. 
THE MOTHER: Is this your wish, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: Yes, mother. 
THE MOTHER: But what! Do you wish to go away 

this very day? 

VIOLAINE: This very evening. 
JACQUES HURY: I shall go with her. 

Time is short and work pressing in this month 
of hay and harvest. I have already stayed 
away too long. 
THE MOTHER: Stay, Violaine! Do not go away 

from us, thou too! 

VIOLAINE: It is only for a short time, mother! 
THE MOTHER: A short time, you promise? 
JACQUES HURY: A short time, and when autumn 

Here she will be with us again, never to go away 

any more. 
THE MOTHER: Ah, Jacques! Why do you let her 

go away? 

JACQUES HURY: Do you think it is not hard for me? 
MARA: Mother, what they both say is reasonable. 
THE MOTHER: It is hard to see my child leave me. 
VIOLAINE: Do not be sad, mother! 

What does it matter that we should wait a few 



It is only a little time to pass. 

Am I not sure of your affection? and of Mara's? 

and of Jacques', my betrothed ? 
Is it not so, Jacques? He is mine as I am his, 
and nothing can separate us ? Look at me, dear 
Jacques. See how he weeps to see me go away! 
This is not the time for weeping, mother! am I 
not young and beautiful and loved by every- 
body ? 

My father has gone away, it is true, but he has 
left me the tenderest of husbands, the friend 
who will never forsake me. 

So it is not the time to weep, but to rejoice. 
Ah, dear mother, how beautiful life is, and 
how happy I am! 
MARA: And you, Jacques, what do you say? You 

do not look very happy. 
JACQUES HURY: Is it not natural that I should 

be sad? 
MARA: Come! it is only a separation for a few 

months ! 

JACQUES HURY: Too long for my heart. 
MARA: Listen, Violaine, how well he said that! 
And how is this, my sister, you so sad too ? Smile 
at me with that charming mouth! Raise those 
blue eyes that our father loved so much. See 
Jacques! Look at your wife and see how 
beautiful she is when she smiles! 


She will not be taken away from you! who would 

be sad who has a little sun like this to shine 

in his home? 
Love her well for us, cruel man! Tell her to 

be brave! 
JACQUES HURY: Courage, Violaine! 

You have not lost me; we are not lost to each other! 
You see that I do not doubt your love; but do 

you doubt mine? 
Do I doubt you, Violaine? Do I not love you, 

Violaine? Am I not sure of you, 
I have talked about you to my mother, and you 

may imagine how happy she will be to see you. 
It is hard to leave the house of your parents. 

But where you are going you will have a safe 

shelter where no one can break in. 
Neither your love nor your innocence, dear 

Violaine, has anything to fear. 
THE MOTHER: These are very loving words, 

And yet there is something in them, and in what 

you said to me, my child, 
I don't know what - - something strange which 

does not please me. 
MARA: I see nothing strange, mother. 
THE MOTHER: Violaine! If I hurt you just now, 

my child, 
Forget what I said. 



VIOLAINE: You have not hurt me. 

THE MOTHER: Then let me embrace you. 

(She opens her arms to her. 
VIOLAINE: No, mother. 

MARA: Violaine, that is wrong! Do you fear to 
have us touch thee? Why do you treat us 
thus, like lepers? 
VIOLAINE : I have made a vow. 
MARA: What vow? 

VIOLAINE : That nobody shall touch me. 
MARA: Until your return here? 

(Silence. She lowers her head. 
JACQUES HURY: Let her alone. You see she is 

THE MOTHER: Go away for a moment. 

(They move away. 
Farewell, Violaine! 
You will not deceive me, my child; you will 

not deceive the mother who bore thee. 
What I have said to you is hard; but look at 

me, I am full of trouble, and I am old. 
You you are young, and you will forget. 
My man is gone, and now here is my child turn- 
ing away from me. 

One's own sorrow is nothing, but the sorrow one 
has caused to others 



Makes bitter the bread in the mouth. 
Think of that, my sacrificed lamb, and say to 
yourself: Thus I have caused sorrow to no one. 
I counselled thee as I thought for the best. Don't 
bear malice, Violaine! Save your sister. Must 
she be left to be ruined? 

And God will be with you, who is your recom- 
That is all. You will never see my old face 

again. May God be with thee! 
And you do not wish to kiss me, but I can at 
least give you my blessing, sweet, sweet Violaine! 
VIOLAINE: Yes, mother! yes, mother! 

(She kneels, and THE MOTHER makes the 

sign of the cross above her. 

JACQUES (returning) : Come, Violaine, it is time to go. 
MARA: Go and pray for us. 
VIOLAINE (calling): I give you my dresses, Mara, 

and all my things! 
Have no fear of them; you know that I have not 

touched them. 
I did not go into that room. 

Ah, ah! my poor wedding-dress that was so 

(She stretches out her arms as if to find 
support. All remain at a distance from 
her. She goes out tottering, followed by 



Act Three: Scene One 

Chevoche. A large forest sparsely grown with lofty 
oaks and birches, with an undergrowth of pines, firs, 
and a few holly trees. A wide straight road has just 
been cut through the woods to the horizon. Workmen 
are removing the last stumps of trees and preparing the 
roadway. There is a camp at one side, with huts made 
of faggots, a pot over a camp-fire, etc. The camp lies 
in a sand-pit, where a few workmen are engaged in 
loading a cart with a fine white sand. An apprentice of 
Pierre de Craon, squatting among the dry gorse bushes, 
oversees the work. On either side of the new road stand 
two colossi made of faggots, with collars and smocks of 
white cloth, each with a red cross on its breast. A bar- 
rel forms the head of each colossus, with its edge cut into 
saw-teeth to simulate a crown, and a sort of face roughly 
painted on it in red. A long trumpet is fitted to the 
bunghole, and held in place by a board as if by an arm. 

It is the end of the day. There is snow on the ground 
and in the sky. 

It is Christmas Eve. 


King can come. 
A WORKMAN: 'A can coom an' 'a likes. We've 

done our part well. 



THE MAYOR (looking around with satisfaction) : It's 
mighty beautiful! Fact is, it can hold every- 
body, as many as there are, men, women, and 
tiny children. 

And to think 'twas the worst part, with all these 

bad weeds and these briars, and the marsh. 

It ain't the wise ones of Bruyeres can teach us 


A WORKMAN: Their road has a beard, and teeth 
too, wi' all those stumps they's left us! 

(They laugh 

THE APPRENTICE (pedantically, in a voice frightfully 
sharp and shrill): Vox clamantis in deserto: 
Parate vias Domini et erunt prava in directa 
et aspera in vias planas. 

It is true you have done your work well. I con- 
gratulate you, good people. It is like the road 
at Corpus Christi. 

(Pointing to the Giants) : And who, gentlemen, 

are these two beautiful and reverend persons? 

A WORKMAN: Beant they handsome? It was fathe' 

Vincent, the old drunkard, thet made 'em. 

'A said it's th' great King of Abyssinia an' his 

wife Bellotte. 
THE APPRENTICE: For my part I thought they 

were Gog and Magog. 

THE MAYOR: Tis the two Angels of Chevoche 
who come to salute the King their lord. 


They'll be set a-fire when 'a passes. 
Listen! (All listen. 

A WORKMAN: Oh, no, that beant him yet. We'd 

hear the bells o' Bruyeres a-ringin'. 
ANOTHER: 'A won't be here afore midnight. 'A 

supped at Fisme. 
ANOTHER: 'Tis a good place to see from, here. 

I shallna budge. 
ANOTHER: Hast 'a eat, Perrot? I've on'y a mossel 

o' bread, all froze. 
THE MAYOR: Don't be afraid. The's a quarter 

o' pork in the pot and some big sausages, and 

the roebuck we killed, 
And three ells o' blood-sausages, and apples, and 

a good little keg of Marne wine. 
THE APPRENTICE : I stay with you. 
A WOMAN : And there's a good little Christmas for you. 
THE APPRENTICE: It was on Christmas Day that 

King Clovis was baptized at Rheims. 
ANOTHER WOMAN: 'Tis Christmas Day that oor 

King Charles comes back to get hi'self crowned. 
ANOTHER: 'Tis a village girl, sent by God, 

Who brings him back to his own. 
ANOTHER: Jeanne, they call her! 
ANOTHER: The Maid! 
ANOTHER: Who was born on Twelfth Night! 
ANOTHER: Who drove the English away from 
Orleans when they besieged it! 



ANOTHER WORKMAN: And who's goin' to drive 
'em out of France too, all of 'em! Amen: 

ANOTHER WORKMAN (bumming): Noel! Cock-a- 
doodle-do! Noel! Noel come again! Rrr! 
how cauld it be! 

(He wraps himself closer in his cloak. 

A WOMAN: Mus' look well t' see if the's a little 
man all in red clothes by th' King. That's her. 

ANOTHER WOMAN: On a tall black horse. 

THE FIRST WOMAN: On'y six months agone her was 
keepin' her father's cows. 

ANOTHER WOMAN: And now her carries a banner 
where Jesus is in writin'. 

A WORKMAN: An' that the English run away 
before like mice. 

ANOTHER WORKMAN: Let the wicked Bourguignons 
o' Saponay beware! 

ANOTHER WORKMAN: They'll all be at Rheims 
at the break o' day. 

ANOTHER WORKMAN: What be they doin', those 
down there? 

THE APPRENTICE: The two bells of the Cathe- 
dral, Baudon and Baude, will be rung at 
the Gloria at midnight, and they will never 
stop swinging and clanging until the French 

Everybody will keep a lighted candle in his house 
until morning. 



They expect the King to be there for the Mass 

at dawn, which is 'Lux fulgebit.' 3 
All the clergy will go out to meet him, three 

hundred priests and the Archbishop in copes of 

gold, and the monks, the Mayor and the vestry. 
All that will be very beautiful on the snow, in 

the bright merry sunshine, with all the people 

singing "Noel"! 
And they say that the King intends to get down 

from his horse, and enter his good city riding 

upon an ass, like our Lord. 
THE MAYOR: How comes it that you did not stay 

down there? 
THE APPRENTICE: Master Pierre de Craon sent me 

here to get sand. 
THE MAYOR: What! He busies himself about sand 

at such a time? 

THE APPRENTICE: He says there is not much time. 
THE MAYOR: But how could he employ him- 
self better than in making this road, as we do? 
THE APPRENTICE: He says that his work is not to 

make roads for the King, but a dwelling for 

THE MAYOR: Of what use would Rheims be if 

the King could not reach it? 
THE APPRENTICE : But what use would the road be 

if there is no church at the end of it ? 
THE MAYOR: He is not a good Frenchman. 



THE APPRENTICE: He says that he knows nothing 

but his work. If anybody talks politics to us, 

we blacken his nose with the bottom of the 

THE MAYOR: He has not even been able to finish 

his Justice, though 'tis ten years they've been 

working on it. 
THE APPRENTICE: On the contrary! All the stone 

is polished, and the woodwork is in place; 

it's only the spire that has not yet done growing. 
THE MAYOR: They never work on it. 
THE APPRENTICE : The master is preparing the glass 

for his windows now, and that is why he sends 

us here for sand; 
Though that is not his craft. 
All winter he has worked among his furnaces. 
To make light, my poor people, is more difficult 

than to make gold, 
To breathe on this heavy matter and make it 

transparent, "according as our bodies of mud 

shall be changed into bodies of glory," 
As Saint Paul said. 

And he says that he must find for each colour 
The mother-colour itself, just as God himself 

made it. 
That is why, into his great clean vessels, full of 

shining water, he pours jacinth, ultramarine, 

rich gold, vermilion, 



And he watches these beautiful rose-coloured 

liquids to see what happens to them in the 

sunshine, and by virtue of the grace of God, 

and how they mingle and bloom in the matrass. 

And he says there is not one colour which he 

cannot make out of his own knowledge alone, 

As his body makes red and blue. 

Because he wishes the Justice of Rheims to shine 

like the morning on the day of her nuptials. 

THE MAYOR: They say he has leprosy. 

THE APPRENTICE: That is not true! I saw him 

naked last summer. 
While he bathed in the Aisne at Soissons. I 

know what I say! 
His flesh is as healthy as a child's. 
THE MAYOR: It is queer, all the same. Why 

did he keep himself hidden so long? 
THE APPRENTICE: That is a lie. 
THE MAYOR: I know, I am older than you. You 
mustn't get angry, little man. It doesn't matter 
if he be sick in the body. 
It isn't with his body he works. 
THE APPRENTICE : Better not let him hear you say 
that ! I remember how he punished one of us be- 
cause he stayed all the time in his corner, drawing: 
He sent him up on the scaffolding to serve the 
masons all day and pass them their hods and 
their stones, 



Saying that by the end of the day he would know 
two things better than he could learn them by 
rule and design: the weight a man can carry 
and the height of his body. 

And as the grace of God multiplies each of our 
good deeds, 

So he taught us about what he calls "the shekel 
of the Temple," and this dwelling of God of 
which each man who does all that his body 
is capable of doing is like a secret foundation; 

What means the thumb, and the hand, and the 
arm's length, and the spread of both our arms, 
and the arm extended, and the circle it makes, 

And the foot and the step; 

And how all these things are never the same. 

Do you think Father Noah was indifferent to 
the body when he built the ark? and are these 
things of no account: 

The number of paces from the door to the altar, 
and the height the eye may be lifted to, and 
the number of souls the two sides of the Church 
may hold all at the same time? 

For the heathen artist made everything from the 
outside, but we make all from within, like the bees, 

And as the soul does for the body: nothing is 
lifeless, everything lives, 

Everything gives thanks in action. 
THE MAYOR: The little man talks well. 



A WORKMAN: Hear him, like a magpie, all full of 

his master's words. 
THE APPRENTICE: Speak with respect of Pierre de 

Craon ! 
THE MAYOR: 'Tis true he's a burgher of Rheims, 

and they call him Master of the Compass. 
As they used to call Messire Loys 
The Master of the Rule. 
ANOTHER: Throw some wood on the fire, 

Perrot, look it's beginning to snow. 

(It snows. Night has come. Enter MARA 
dressed in black, carrying a bundle under 
her cloak. 

MARA: Are these the people of Chevoche? 
THE MAYOR: 'Tis ourselves. 
MARA: Praised be Jesus Christ. 
MARA: Is it around here I'll find the little cell of 

the Geyn? 

THE MAYOR: Where the leper woman lives? 
MARA : Yes. 

THE MAYOR: Not exactly here, but close by. 
ANOTHER: You want to see the leper woman? 
MARA: Yes. 
A MAN: She can't be seen; she always wears a 

veil over her face, as it's ordered. 
ANOTHER: And well ordered! it isn't myself as 

wants to see her. 



MARA: It's a long time you've had her? 

A MAN: A'most eight years, and we'd like it well 

not to have her at all. 
MARA: Is that because she has done harm? 
A MAN: No, but all t'same it's unlucky to have 

these varmint kind of folk near by. 
THE MAYOR: And then, 'tis the parish that feeds 

A MAN: By the way, I bet they've forgot to take 

her her bite to eat for three days, with all these 

doings about the road! 

A WOMAN: And what do you want o' this woman? 
(MARA makes no reply, but stands, looking at 

the fire. 
A WOMAN: A person would say it's a child you're 

a-holdin' in your arms? 
ANOTHER WOMAN: It's a fearsome cold to take out 

little children at such an hour. 
MARA: It is not cold. 

(Silence. There is heard, from the darkness 

under the trees, the sound of a wooden rattle. 

AN OLD WOMAN: Wait! there's her! there's her 

click-click! Holy Virgin! what a pity her 

ain't dead! 
A WOMAN: 'A comes to ask for her food. No fear 

her'll forget that! 
A MAN: What a 
ANOTHER: Toss h something She rifcj^tn't come 



anigh to us. First thing you know she'd 
give us the poison. 

ANOTHER: No meat, Perrot! It's fast day, it's 

Christmas Eve! (They laugh. 

Throw her this mossel o' bread that's froze. Good 

enough for the like o' her! 

A MAN (calling): Heigh, No-face! Heigh, Jeanne, 
I say, hallo, rotting one! 

(The black form of the leper woman is seen 

on the snow. MARA looks at her. 
Catch it! 

(He throws her swiftly a piece of bread. 
She stoops and picks it up and goes away. 
MARA follows her. 
A MAN: Where is it she's going? 
ANOTHER: Here, woman! hallo! where be you 
going, what be you doing? 

(MARA and THE WOMAN go farther away. 

Act Three : Scene Two 

They disappear within the forest, leaving their tracks 
upon the snow. The night brightens. The brilliant 
moon, surrounded by an immense halo, lights up a hillock 
covered with heather and white sand. Enormous sand- 
stone rocks, fantastically formed, rise here and there like 
beasts belonging to the fossil ages, like inexplicable monu- 
ments or idols with deformed heads and limbs. And 
the leper woman conducts MARA to the cave where she 
lives, a kind of low cavern in which it is impossible to 
stand upright. The back of the cave is closed, leaving 
only an opening for the smoke. 


Act Three : Scene Three 

VIOLAINE: Who is this 

That does not fear to walk with the leper woman ? 
You must know that it is dangerous to be near 

her, and her breath is deadly. 
MARA: It is I, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: O voice, so long unheard! Is it you, 


MARA: It is I, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: It is your voice and another. 

Let me light this fire, for it is very cold. And 
this torch, too. 

(She lights a fire of turf and heather by means 
of live embers which she takes from a pot, 
and then the torch. 

MARA: It is I, Violaine; Mara, your sister. 
VIOLAINE: Dear sister, hail! How good of you to 

come! But do you not fear me? 
MARA: I fear nothing in this world. 
VIOLAINE: How much your voice has become like 

MARA: Violaine, our dear mother is no more. 


VIOLAINE: When did she die? 
MARA: In that same month after your departure. 
VIOLAINE: Knowing nothing? 



MARA: I do not know. 
VIOLAINE: Poor Maman! 

May God have thy soul in his keeping! 
MARA: And our father has not yet come back. 
VIOLAINE: And you two? 
MARA: It is well with us. 
VIOLAINE: Everything at home is as you wish 


MARA: Everything is well. 
VIOLAINE : I know it could not be otherwise 

With Jacques and you. 

MARA: You should see what we have done! We 
have three more ploughs. 

You would not recognize Combernon. 

And we are going to pull down those old walls, 

Now that the King has come back. 
VIOLAINE: And are you happy together, Mara? 
MARA: Yes. We are happy. He loves me 

As I love him. 
VIOLAINE: God be praised. 
MARA: Violaine! 

You do not see what I hold in my arms ? 
VIOLAINE: I cannot see. 
MARA: Lift your veil, then. 
VIOLAINE: Under that I have another. 
MARA: You cannot see any more? 
VIOLAINE: I have no longer any eyes. 

The soul lives alone in the ruined body. 



MARA: Blind! 

How then are you able to walk so straight ? 
VIOLAINE: I hear. 
MARA: What do you hear? 
VIOLAINE: I hear all things exist with me. 
MARA (significantly): And I, Violaine, do you 

hear me? 
VIOLAINE: God has given me the same intelligence 

Which He has given to us all. 
MARA: Do you hear me, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: Ah, poor Mara! 
MARA: Do you hear me, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: What would you have of me, dear sister? 
MARA: To join you in praise of this God who has 

struck you with the pestilence. 
VIOLAINE: Then let us praise Him, on this Eve of 

His Nativity. 

MARA: It is easy to be a saint when leprosy helps us. 
VIOLAINE : I do not know, not being one. 
MARA: We must turn to God when everything else 

is gone. 

VIOLAINE : He at least will not fail us. 
MARA (softly) : Perhaps, who knows, Violaine, tell 

VIOLAINE: Life fails, but not the death where I 

now live. 

MARA: Heretic! are you sure, then, of your sal- 
vation ? 

1 02 


VIOLAINE: I am sure of the goodness of Him who 
has provided for everything. 

MARA: We see His first instalment. 

VIOLAINE: I have faith in God who has ordained 
my destiny. 

MARA: What do you know of Him who is invisible, 
who is never manifest? 

VIOLAINE: He is not more invisible to me now than 
all the rest. 

MARA (ironically) : He is with you, little dove, and 
He loves you! 

VIOLAINE: As with all who are wretched, Himself 
with me. 

MARA: Surely how very great is His love! 

VIOLAINE: As the love of the fire for the wood it 
flames above. 

MARA: He has cruelly punished you. 

VIOLAINE: Not more that it was due to me. 

MARA: And already, he to whom you had sub- 
mitted your body has forgotten you? 

VIOLAINE: I have not submitted my body! 

MARA: Sweet Violaine! lying Violaine! Did I not 
see you tenderly kiss Pierre de Craon the morn- 
ing of that beautiful day in June? 

VIOLAINE : You saw all, and there was nothing else. 

MARA: Why, then, did you kiss him so feelingly? 

VIOLAINE: The poor man was a leper, and I, I was 
so happy that day! 



MARA: In all innocence, wasn't it? 

VIOLAINE: Like a little girl who kisses a poor 

little boy. 

MARA: Ought I to believe that, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE: It is true. 
MARA: Don't say, too, that it was of your own 

will you abandoned Jacques to me? 
VIOLAINE: No, not of my own will. I loved him! 

I am not so good as that. 
MARA: Ought he to have loved you the same, though 

you were a leper? 
VIOLAINE: I did not expect it. 
MARA: Who would love a leper woman? 
VIOLAINE: My heart is pure! 
MARA: But what did Jacques know of that? He 

believes you guilty. 
VIOLAINE: Our mother had told me that you loved 


MARA: Don't say it was she who made you a leper. 
VIOLAINE: God in His goodness warned me. 
MARA: So that when our mother spoke to you . . . 
VIOLAINE: It was His voice that I heard. 
MARA: But why allow yourself to seem guilty? 
VIOLAINE: Should I have done nothing, then, on 

my part? 
Poor Jacquin! Was it necessary to leave him 

still regretting me? 
MARA: Say that you did not love him at all. 



VIOLAINE: I did not love him, Mara. 

MARA: But I would never have let him go like 


VIOLAINE : Was it I who let him go ? 
MARA: It would have killed me. 
VIOLAINE: And am I living? 
MARA: Now I am happy with him. 
VIOLAINE: Peace be unto you! 
MARA: And I have given him a child, Violaine! 

a dear little girl. A sweet little girl. 
VIOLAINE: Peace be unto you! 
MARA: Our happiness is great. But yours is 

greater, with God. 
VIOLAINE: And I too knew what happiness was 

eight years ago, and my heart was ravished 

with it. 
So much, that I madly asked God ah! that it 

might last for ever! 
And God heard me in a strange manner! Will 

my leprosy ever be cured? No, no, as long 

as there remains a particle of my flesh to be 

Will the love in my heart be cured? Never, as 

long as my immortal soul lives to nourish it. 
Does your husband understand you, Mara? 
MARA: What man understands a woman? 
VIOLAINE: Happy is she who can be known, heart 

and soul, who can give herself utterly. 



Jacques - - what would he have done with all that 

I could have given him? 

MARA: You have transferred your faith to Another? 
VIOLAINE: Love has ended in pain, and pain has 

ended in love. 
The wood we set on fire gives not only ashes, but 

a flame as well. 
MARA: But of what use is this blind fire that gives 

to others 

Neither light nor heat ? 
VIOLAINE: Is it not something that it does me 

service ? 

Do not begrudge to a creature consumed, 
Afflicted to the uttermost depths, this light that 

illumines her within! 
And if you could pass but one night only in my skin, 

you would not say that this fire gives no heat. 
Man is the priest, but it is not forbidden to woman 

to be victim. 
God is miserly, and does not permit any creature 

to be set on fire 

Unless some impurity be burned with him, 
His own, or that which surrounds him, as when 

the living embers in the censer are stirred. 
And truly these are unhappy times. 
The people have no father. They look around, 

and they know no longer where the King is, 

or the Pope. 

1 06 


That is why my body agonizes here for all 

Christendom which is perishing. 
. Powerful is suffering when it is as voluntary as 


You saw me kiss that leper, Mara? 
Ah, the chalice of sorrow is deep, 
And who once sets his lip to it can never with- 
draw it again of his own free will. 
MARA: Take my sorrow upon thee, too! 
VIOLAINE: I have already taken it. 
MARA: Violaine! if there is still something living, 
that was once my sister, under that veil and 
in that ruined body, 
Remember that we were children together! Have 

pity upon me! 
VIOLAINE: Speak, dear sister. Have faith! Tell 

me all! 
MARA: Violaine, I am a wretched woman, and my 

pain is greater than yours! 
VIOLAINE: Greater, sister? 

(MARA, with a loud cry, opens her cloak and 

lifts up the corpse of a baby. 
Look! Take it! 
VIOLAINE: What is this? 

MARA: Look, I tell you! take it! Take it, I give 
It to you. (She lays the corpse in her arms. 

VIOLAINE: Ah! I feel a rigid little body! a poor 
little cold face! 



MARA: Ha! ha! Violaine! My child! my little girl! 
That is her sweet little face! that is her poor 

little body! 

VIOLAINE (speaking low) : Dead, Mara ? 
MARA: Take her, I give her to you! 
VIOLAINE: Peace, Mara! 
MARA: They wanted to take her away from me. 

but I would not let them! and I ran away 

with her. 
But you, take her, Violaine. Here, take her; 

you see, I give her to you. 
VIOLAINE : What do you wish me to do, Mara? 
MARA: What do I wish you to do? do you not 

understand ? 

I tell you she is dead ! I tell you she is dead ! 
VIOLAINE: Her soul lives with God. She follows 

the Lamb. She is with all the blessed little 


MARA: But for me she is dead! 
VIOLAINE: You readily give me her body! give the 

rest to God. 
MARA: No! no! no! You shall never trick me 

with your nunnish rigmaroles! No, I shall 

never be silenced. 
This milk that burns my breast cries out to God 

like the blood of Abel! 
Have I got fifty children to tear out of my body? 

have I got fifty souls to tear out of my soul? 



Do you know what it is to be rent in two in order 

to bring into the world this little wailing 

And the midwife told me I should have no more 

But if I had a hundred children it would not be 

my little Aubaine. 
VIOLAINE: Accept, submit. 
MARA: Violaine, you know well I have a hard 

head. I am one who never gives up, and who 

accepts nothing. 
VIOLAINE: Poor sister! 
MARA: Violaine, they are so sweet, these little 

ones, and it hurts you so when this cruel little 

mouth bites your breast! 
VIOLAINE (caressing the face) : How cold her little 

face is! 

MARA (speaking low) : He knows nothing yet. 
VIOLAINE (also speaking low): He was not home? 
MARA: He has gone to Rheims to sell his grain. 

She died suddenly, in two hours. 
VIOLAINE: Whom was she like? 
MARA: Like him, Violaine. She is not only mine, 

she is his, too. Only her eyes are like mine. 
VIOLAINE: Poor Jacquin! 
MARA: It was not to hear you say poor Jacquin! 

that I came here. 
VIOLAINE : What do you wish of me, then ? 



MARA: Violaine, do you want to know? Tell me, 
do you know what a soul is that damns itself, 
Of its own will, to all eternity? 
Do you know what it is in the heart that really 

blasphemes ? 
There is a devil who, while I was running, sang 

me a little song, 
Do you wish to hear the things he taught me? 

VIOLAINE: Do not say these horrible things! 

MARA: Then give me back my child that I gave you. 

VIOLAINE: You gave me only a corpse. 

MARA: And you, give it back to me alive! 

VIOLAINE: Mara, what do you dare to say? 

MARA: I will not have it that my child is dead. 

VIOLAINE: Is it in my power to bring the dead 
to life? 

MARA: I don't know, I have only you to help me. 

VIOLAINE: Is it in my power to bring the dead 
to life, like God? 

MARA: Of what use are you, then? 

VIOLAINE: To suffer and to supplicate! 

MARA: But of what use is it to suffer and sup- 
plicate if you give me not back my child ? 

VIOLAINE: God knows. It is enough for Him that 
I serve Him. 

MARA: But I I am deaf, and I do not hear! and 
I cry to you from the depths where I am fallen ! 
Violaine ! Violaine ! 



Give me back that child I gave you! See! I 

give in, I humiliate myself! have pity on me! 

Have pity on me, Violaine, and give me back 

that child you took from me. 
VIOLAINE: Only He who took it can give it 

MARA: Give it back to me then! Ah, I know 

it is all your fault. 
VIOLAINE: My fault! 
MARA: Then let it not be yours. 
It is mine, forgive me! 
But give her back to me, my sister! 
VIOLAINE : But you see it is dead. 
MARA: You lie! it is not dead! Ah! figure-of-tow, 
ah, heart-of-a-sheep ! Ah, if I had access to 
your God as you have, 
He would not take my little ones away from me 

so easily! 

VIOLAINE: Ask me to re-create heaven and earth! 
MARA: But it is written that you may blow on 

that mountain and cast it into the sea. 
VIOLAINE : I can, if I am a saint. 
MARA: You must be a saint when a wretched being 

prays to you. 
VIOLAINE: Ah, supreme temptation! 

I swear, and I declare, and I protest before God 

that I am not a saint! 
MARA: Then give me back my child. 



VIOLAINE: O my God, you see into my heart. 
I swear and I protest before God that I am not a 

saint ! 

MARA: Violaine, give me back my child! 
VIOLAINE: Why will you not leave me in peace? 
Why do you come thus to torment me in my 
tomb ? 
Am I of any worth? do I influence God? am I 

like God ? 

It is God himself you are asking me to judge. 
MARA: I ask you only for my child. (Pause. 

VIOLAINE (raising her finger): Listen. 

(Silence. A distant, almost imperceptible, 

sound of bells. 
MARA: I hear nothing. 
VIOLAINE : The Christmas bells, the bells announcing 

the midnight Mass! 
O Mara, a little child is born to us! 
MARA: Then give me back mine. 

(Trumpets in the distance. 
VIOLAINE: What is that? 

MARA: It is the King going to Rheims. Have you 
not heard of the road the peasants have cut 
through the forest? 

And they can keep all the wood they cut. 
It is a little shepherdess who guides the King 

through the middle of France 
To Rheims, to be crowned there. 



VIOLAINE: Praised be God, who does all these 
wonderful things! 

(Again the sound of bells, very distinct. 
MARA: How loud the bells ring for the Gloria! 

The wind blows this way. 
They are ringing in three villages all at once. 
VIOLAINE: Let us pray, with all the universe! 

Thou art not cold, Mara? 
MARA : I am cold only in my heart. 
VIOLAINE: Let us pray. It is long since we cele- 
brated Christmas together. 

Fear nothing. I have taken your grief upon 

myself. Look! and that which you have given 

me lies close against my heart. 

Do not weep! This is not the time to weep, 

when the salvation of all mankind is already 

born. (Bells in the distance, less clear. 

MARA: The snow has stopped, and the stars are 

VIOLAINE: Look! Do you see this Book? 

The priest who visits me now and then left it with 


MARA: I see it. 

VIOLAINE: Take it, will you? and read me the 
Christmas Service, the First Lesson of each of 
the three Nocturnes. 

(MARA takes the Book and reads. 



1 Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as 
was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly 
afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of 
Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously 
afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, 
in Galilee of the nations. 


2 The people that walked in darkness have seen 
a great light: they that dwell in the land of 
the shadow of death, upon them hath the light 

3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not 
increased the joy: they joy before thee ac- 
cording to the joy in harvest, and as men re- 
joice when they divide the spoil. 

4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden; 
and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his 
oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 

5 For every battle of the warrior is with con- 
fused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but 
this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is 
given, and the government shall be upon his 
shoulder; and his name shall be called Won- 
derful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The ever- 
lasting Father, the Prince of Peace. 

1 Isaiah ix, 1-6. 


VIOLAINE (raising her face): Listen! (Silence. 

VOICES OF ANGELS in heaven, heard only by Violaine: 






(VIOLAINE lifts her finger in warning. 
Silence. MARA listens and looks uneasily. 
MARA: I hear nothing. 
VIOLAINE : Read on, Mara. 
MARA (continuing to read) : 


Our Saviour, dearly beloved, was to-day born: 
let us rejoice. For there should be no loop- 
hole open to sorrow on the birthday of Life, 
which, the fear of Death being at last con- 
sumed, filleth us with the joy of eternity prom- 
ised. No one from this gladness is excluded, 
as one and the same cause for happiness exists 
for us all: for Our Lord, the destroyer of sin 

1 The voices are like those of heroic young men singing solemnly in unison, 
with retarded movement and very simple cadence at the end of phrases. 

2 Like the voice of a child. 


and Death, having found no one exempt from 
sin, came to deliver every one. Let the sinless 
exult insomuch as his palm is at hand; let the 
sinful rejoice . . . 

(Suddenly a brilliant and prolonged sound of 
trumpets very near. Shouts resound 
through the forest. 
MARA: The King! The King of France! 

(Again and again the blare of the trumpets, 
unutterably piercing, solemn, and tri- 

MARA (in a low voice): The King of France who 
goes to Rheims! (Silence. 

Violaine! (Silence. 

Do you hear me, Violaine? 

(Silence. She goes on with the reading. 
. . . Let the sinful rejoice insomuch as forgive- 
ness is offered to him. Let the Gentile be of 
good cheer, because he is bidden to share life. 
For the Son of God, according to the fulness 
of this time which the inscrutable depth of the 
Divine counsel hath disposed, took on Himself 
the nature of mankind so that He might recon- 
cile it to its maker, and that this deviser of 
Death, Satan, by that which he had vanquished 
might be in his turn conquered. 
VOICES OF ANGELS (heard only by VIOLAINE, as 
before) : 







MARA: Violaine, I am not worthy to read this Book! 
Violaine, I know that my heart is too hard, and I 

am sorry for it : I wish I could be different. 
VIOLAINE: Read on, Mara. You do not know 
who chants the responses. (Silence. 

MARA (with an effort takes up the Book, and reads in 

a trembling voice) : 
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke. 1 

(They both stand up. 

I And it came to pass in those days, that there 
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that 
all the world should be taxed. (And the rest.) 

(They sit down. 


(She stops, overcome by emotion. - The trum- 
pets sound a last time in the distance. 

Forasmuch as, by the grace of God, we are this 

1 Luke ii, I. 


day thrice to celebrate the solemnities of Mass, 
we may not speak at length on the gospel that 
hath just been read. However, the birth of 
our Redeemer bids us address you at least in 
a few words. Wherefore, at the time of this 
birth, should there have been a census of all 
the people except clearly to manifest that He 
who was appearing in the flesh just then was 
numbering his Elect for eternity? On the 
contrary, the Prophet saith of the wicked : they 
shall be deleted from the Book of the Living 
and they shall not be written down among the 
Righteous. It is meet also that He should 
be born in Bethlehem. For Bethlehem means 
the House of Bread, and Jesus Christ saith of 
Himself: I am the Living Bread descended 
from Heaven. Therefore had the place in 
which our Lord was born been called the House 
of Bread in order that He who was to feed our 
hearts with internal satiety should there appear 
in the substance of flesh. He was born, not 
in the house of his parents, but by the roadside, 
no doubt to show that by taking on humanity 
He was being born in a place strange to Him. 







VOICES OF ANGELS (again, almost imperceptible): 










TATIS. (Long silence. 
VIOLAINE (suddenly cries out in a stifled voice): Ah! 
MARA: What is it? 

(With her hand she makes her a sign to be 
silent. - - Silence. The first flush of dawn 

(VIOLAINE puts her hand under her cloak as 
if to fasten her dress again. 



MARA: Violaine, I see something moving under 

your cloak! 

VIOLAINE (as if she were awakening little by little) : 

Is it you, Mara? good morning, sister. I 

feel the breath of the new-born day on my 


MARA: Violaine! Violaine! is it your arm that 

stirs? Again I see something moving. 
VIOLAINE: Peace, Mara, it is Christmas Day, 

when all joy is born! 
MARA: What joy is there for me unless my child 

lives ? 
VIOLAINE : And for us, too a little child is born 

to us! 
MARA: In the name of the living God, what say 


VIOLAINE: " Behold, I bring thee glad tidings . . .' 
MARA: Your cloak it moves again! 

(The little bare foot of a baby, moving lazily, 

appears in the opening of the cloak. 
VIOLAINE: '. . . Because a man has appeared 
in the world!' 

(MARA falls upon her knees, with a deep 
sigh, her forehead on the knees of her sister. 
VIOLAINE caresses her. 

VIOLAINE: Poor sister! she weeps. She, too, 
has had too much sorrow. 

(Silence. VIOLAINE kisses her head. 

1 20 


Take it, Mara! Would you leave the child 
always with me? 

MARA (she takes the child from under the cloak and 

looks at it wildly): It lives! 

VIOLAINE (she walks out of the cave a few steps upon 
the heather. By the first light of the bitter cold 
morning can be seen, first, the pine and birch 
trees hoary with frost, then, at the end of an 
immense snow-covered plain, seeming very small 
on the top of its hill, but clearly etched in the pure 
air, the five-towered silhouette of Monsanvierge) : 
Glory to God! 
MARA: It lives! 

VIOLAINE: Peace on earth to men! 
MARA: It lives! it lives! 
VIOLAINE : It lives and we live. 
And the face of the Father appeared on the 

earth born again and comforted. 
MARA: My child lives! 

VIOLAINE (raising her finger): Listen! (Silence. 
I hear the Angelus ringing at Monsanvierge. 

(She crosses herself and prays. The child 


MARA (whispering): It is I, Aubaine; dost know 

me? (The child moves about and whines. 

What is it, my joy? What is it, my treasure? 

(The child opens its eyes, looks at its mother 

and begins to cry. MARA looks closely at it. 



Violaine ! 

What does this mean? Its eyes were black, 

And now they are blue like yours. (Silence. 


And what is this drop of milk I see on its lips? 


Act Four: Scene One 

Night. The large kitchen, as in ACT I, empty. 
A lamp is on the table. The outer door is half open. 

MARA enters from without, and carefully closes the 
door. She stands still for a moment in the centre of the 
room, looking toward the door, and listening. 

Then she takes the lamp and goes out by another door 
without making any sound. 

The stage remains dark. Nothing can be seen but 
the fire of some live coals on the hearth. 


Act Four: Scene Two 

Two or three blasts of a horn are heard in the dis- 
tance. Sounds of calling. Movement in the farm. 
Then the noise of opening doors, and the grinding of 
approaching cart-wheels. Loud knocks at the door. 
VOICE FROM WITHOUT (calling): Hallo! 

(Noise in the upper story of a window opening. 
VOICE FROM WITHOUT: Open the door! 
VOICE OF JACQUES HURY: What do you want? 
VOICE FROM WITHOUT: Open the door! 
VOICE FROM WITHOUT: Open the door so that I 
can tell you! (Pause. 

(JACQUES HURY, with a candle in his hand, 
enters the room; he opens the door. After 
a slight pause. 

Enter PIERRE DE CRAON, carrying the body 
of a woman wrapped up in his arms. He 
lays his burden very carefully upon the 
table. Then he lifts his head. The two 
men stare at each other in the candlelight. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Jacques Hury, do you not 

recognize me? 
JACQUES HURY: Pierre de Craon? 




(They continue to look at each other. 
JACQUES HURY: And what is this you bring me? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I found her half-buried in my 

sandpit, there where I seek what I need 
For my glass ovens, and for the mortar - 
Half-hidden under a great cart-load of sand, under 
a cart standing on end from which they had 
taken off the backboard. 

She is still alive. It is I who took it upon my- 
self to bring her to you 

JACQUES HURY: Why here? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: That at least she might die 

under her father's roof! 

JACQUES HURY: There is no roof here but mine. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Jacques, here is Violaine. 
JACQUES HURY: I know no Violaine. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Have you never heard of the 

Leper Woman of Chevoche? 

JACQUES HURY: What does that matter to me? 
You lepers, it is for you to scrape each other's 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I am not a leper any more; 

I was cured long ago. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Year after year the disease 
grew less, and I am now healthy. 



JACQUES HURY: And this one, she too will be cured 

PIERRE DE CRAON: You are more leprous than she 

and I. 
JACQUES HURY: But I don't ask to be taken out of 

my hole in the sand. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: And even if she had been guilty, 

you ought to remember. 
JACQUES HURY: Is it true that she kissed you on 

the mouth? 
PIERRE DE CRAON (looking at him): It is true, poor 


JACQUES HURY: She moves, she is coming to herself. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: I leave you with her. 

(He goes out. 


Act Four: Scene Three 

(JACQUES HURY sits down near the table and 

looks silently at VIOLAINE. 
VIOLAINE (coming to herself and stretching forth 

her hand): Where am I, and who is there? 
JACQUES HURY: At Monsanvierge, and it is I who 
am near you. (Pause. 

VIOLAINE (speaking as she used to do): Good morn- 
ing, Jacques. (Silence. 
Jacques, you still care for me, then? 
JACQUES HURY: The wound is not healed. 
VIOLAINE: Poor boy! 

And I, too, have I not suffered a little too? 
JACQUES HURY: What possessed you to kiss that 

leper on the mouth! 

VIOLAINE: Jacques! you must reproach me quickly 
with all you have in your heart against me, 
that we may finish with all that. 
For we have other things still to say. 
And I want to hear you say just once again those 
words I loved so much: Dear Fiolaine! Sweet 

For the time that remains to us is short. 
JACQUES HURY: I have nothing more to say to you. 



VIOLAINE: Come here, cruel man! 

(He approaches her, where she lies. 
Come nearer to me. 

(She takes his hand and draws him to her. 

He kneels awkwardly at her side. 
Jacques, you must believe me. I swear it before 

God, who is looking upon us! 
I was never guilty with Pierre de Craon. 
JACQUES HURY: Why, then, did you kiss him? 
VIOLAINE: Ah, he was so sad and I was so happy. 
JACQUES HURY: I don't believe you. 

(She lays her hand a moment on his head. 
VIOLAINE : Do you believe me now ? 

(He hides his face in her dress and sobs 


JACQUES HURY: Ah, Violaine! cruel Violaine! 
VIOLAINE : Not cruel, but sweet, sweet Violaine ! 
JACQUES HURY: It is true, then? yes, it was only 
I you loved? 

(Silence. She gives him her other hand. 
VIOLAINE: Jacques, no doubt it was all too beau- 
tiful, and we should have been too happy. 
JACQUES HURY: You have cruelly deceived me. 
VIOLAINE: Deceived? this silver flower on my side 

did not lie. 

JACQUES HURY: What was I to believe, Violaine? 
VIOLAINE : If you had believed in me, 

Who knows but what you might have cured me? 



JACQUES HURY: Was I not to believe my own 

eyes ? 
VIOLAINE: That is true. You ought to have 

believed your own eyes, that is right. 
One does not marry a leper. One does not 

marry an unfaithful woman. 
Do not regret anything, Jacques. There, it is 

better as it is. 
JACQUES HURY: Did you know that Mara loved 

VIOLAINE: I knew it. My mother herself had 

told me. 
JACQUES HURY: Thus everything was in league 

with her against me! 
VIOLAINE: Jacques, there is already enough sorrow 

in the world. 
It is best not to be willingly the cause of a great 

sorrow to others. 

JACQUES HURY: But what of my sorrow? 
VIOLAINE: That is another thing, Jacques. Are 

you not happy to be with me? 
JACQUES: Yes, Violaine. 

VIOLAINE: Where I am, there is patience, not 
sorrow. (Silence. 

The world's grief is great. 
It is too hard to suffer, and not to know why. 
But that which others do not know, I have learned, 
and thou must share my knowledge. 



Jacques, have we not been separated long enough 
now? should we let any barrier remain between 
us? Must it still be that death shall separate 

Only that which is ill should perish, and that 
which should not perish is that which suffers. 
Happy is he who suffers, and who knows why. 
Now my task is finished. 
JACQUES HURY: And mine begins. 
VIOLAINE: What! do you find the cup where I 

have drunk so bitter ? 
JACQUES HURY: And now I have lost you for 


VIOLAINE: Tell me, why lost? 
JACQUES HURY: You are dying. 
VIOLAINE: Jacques, you must understand me! 
Of what use is the finest perfume in a sealed vase? 

it serves for nothing. 
JACQUES HURY: No, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: Of what use has my body been to me, 
having hidden away my heart so that you 
could not see it, but you saw only the scar on 
the outside of the worthless shell. 
JACQUES HURY: I was hard and blind! 
VIOLAINE: Now I am broken utterly, and the 

perfume is set free. 

And Behold, you believe everything, simply be- 
cause I laid my hand on your head. 



JACQUES HURY: I believe. I do not doubt any 

VIOLAINE: And tell me, where is the Justice in 

all that, this justice you spoke of so proudly? 
JACQUES HURY: I am no longer proud. 
VIOLAINE: Come, leave Justice alone. It is not 

for us to call her and to make her come. 
JACQUES HURY: Violaine, how you have suffered 

in these eight long years! 
VIOLAINE: But not in vain. Many things are 

consumed in the flame of a heart that burns. 
JACQUES HURY: Deliverance is near. 
VIOLAINE: Blessed be the hand that led me that 

night ! 

JACQUES HURY: What hand? 
VIOLAINE: That silent hand that clasped mine, and 

led me, when I was coming back with my food. 
JACQUES HURY: Led you where? 
VIOLAINE: Where Pierre de Craon found me. 
Under a great mound of sand, a whole cart-load 

heaped upon me. Did I place myself there, 

all alone? 
JACQUES HURY (rising): Who has done that? 

God's Blood! who has done that? 
VIOLAINE: I don't know. It matters little. Do 

not curse. 
JACQUES HURY: I shall find out the truth about 



VIOLAINE: No, you shall find out the truth about 


JACQUES HURY: Tell me all! 
VIOLAINE: I have told you all. What would you 

learn of a blind woman? 
JACQUES HURY: You shall not put me off the 

VIOLAINE : Do not waste words. I have only a little 

more time to be with you. 
JACQUES HURY: I shall always have Mara. 
VIOLAINE: She is your wife, and she is my sister, 
born of the same father and the same mother, 
and of the same flesh, 
Both of us, here beside Monsanvierge. 


(JACQUES stands a moment motionless, as if 
trying to control himself. Then he sits 
down again. 
JACQUES HURY: There are no more recluses at 


VIOLAINE: What do you say? 

JACQUES HURY: The last one died last Christ- 
mas. No mouth comes any more to the wicket 
of the nourishing church of this holy monastery, 
so the priest tells us who used to give them 
VIOLAINE : The mountain of God 

Is dead, and we share the heritage, Mara and I. 



JACQUES HURY: And Violaine was the secret offshoot 
of the Holy Tree, growing from some subter- 
ranean root. 

God would not have taken her from me, if she 
had been entirely filled by me, leaving no part 
of her empty, 

' God's part/" as good women call it. 
VIOLAINE: What's to be done? so much the worse! 
JACQUES HURY: Stay! do not go! 
VIOLAINE: I stay, I am not going. 

Tell me, Jacques, do you remember that hour at 
noon, and that great scorching sun, and that 
spot on the flesh under my breast that I showed 
to you? 


VIOLAINE: You remember? did I not tell you 
truly that you could never more tear me out 
of your soul? 

This of myself is in you for ever. I do not wish 
you any more to be happy, it is not proper that 
you should laugh, 

In this time when you are still far away from me. 
JACQUES HURY: Ah! Ah! Violaine! 
VIOLAINE: Have this from me, my well-beloved! 
The communion on the cross, the bitterness like 

the bitterness of myrrh, 

Of the sick man who sees the shadow upon the 
dial, and of the soul that receives its call! 



And for you age is already come. But how hard 

it is to renounce when the heart is young! 
JACQUES HURY: And from me you have not wanted 

to accept anything! 
VIOLAINE: Think you that I know nothing about 

you, Jacques ? 

JACQUES HURY: My mother knew me. 
VIOLAINE: To me also, O Jacques, you have caused 

much pain! 
JACQUES HURY: You are a virgin and I have no 

part in you. 

VIOLAINE: What! must I tell you everything? 
JACQUES HURY: What do you still conceal? 
VIOLAINE: It is necessary. This is not the time to 

keep anything back. 
JACQUES HURY: Speak louder. 
VIOLAINE: Have they not told you, then, that 

your child was dead? 
Last year, while you were at Rheims? 
JACQUES HURY: Several people told me. But 

Mara swears that it only slept. 
And I have never been able to draw from her 

the whole story. 
They say she went to find you. 
I should have known everything in time. I 

wanted to learn the whole truth. 
VIOLAINE: That is true. You have the right to 

know all. 


JACQUES HURY: What did she go to ask of you? 
VIOLAINE: Have you never noticed that the eyes 

of your little girl are changed? 
JACQUES HURY: They are blue now, like yours. 
VIOLAINE: It was Christmas night. Yes, Jacques, 

it is true, she was dead. Her little body was 

stiff and icy. 

I know it; all night I held her in my arms. 
JACQUES HURY: Who then restored her to life? 
VIOLAINE: God only, and with God the faith and 

the despair of her mother. 

JACQUES HURY: But you had nothing to do with it? 
VIOLAINE: O Jacques, to you only I will tell a 

great mystery. 
It is true, when I felt this dead body upon my 

own, the child of your flesh, Jacques. . . . 
JACQUES HURY: Ah, my little Aubaine! 
VIOLAINE: You love her very much? 
VIOLAINE: . . . My heart contracted, and the iron 

entered into me. 
Behold what I held in my arms for my Christmas 

night, and all that remained of our race, a dead 


All of yours that I should ever possess in this life ! 
And I listened to Mara, who read me the Service 

for this Holy night: the babe who has been 

given to us, the gospel of Joy. 



Ah, do not say that I know nothing of you! 
Do not say that I do not know what it is to suffer 

for you! 

Nor that I do not know the effort and the par- 
tition of the woman who gives life! 
JACQUES HURY: You do not mean that the child 

was really brought back to life? 
VIOLAINE: What I know is that it was dead, and 

that all of a sudden I felt its head move ! 
And life burst from me in a flash, at one bound, 

and my mortified flesh bloomed again! 
Ah, I know what it is, that little blind mouth 

that seeks, and those pitiless teeth! 
JACQUES HURY: O Violaine! 

(Silence. He makes as if to rise. VIOLAINE 

feebly forces him to remain seated. 
VIOLAINE : Do you forgive me now ? 
JACQUES HURY: Oh, the duplicity of women! 

Ah, you are the daughter of your mother! 
Tell me! it is not you that you would have me 

forgive ! 

VIOLAINE: Whom, then? 

JACQUES HURY: What hand was that which took 
yours the other night, and so kindly led you? 
VIOLAINE: I do not know. 
JACQUES HURY: But I think that I know. 
VIOLAINE: You do not know. 

Leave that to us, it is an affair between women. 



JACQUES HURY: My affair is to have justice done. 
VIOLAINE: Ah, leave thy Justice alone! 
JACQUES HURY: I know what remains for me to do. 
VIOLAINE: You know nothing at all, poor fellow. 

You have no understanding of women, 
And what poor creatures they are, stupid and 

hard-headed and knowing only one thing. 
Do not confuse everything between you and her, 

as with you and me. 

Was it really her hand alone? I do not know. 
And you do not know either. And of what 
good would it be to know? 
Keep what you have. Forgive. 
And you, have you never needed to be forgiven? 
JACQUES HURY: I am alone. 
VIOLAINE: Not alone, with this beautiful little 

child I have given back to you, 
And Mara, my sister, your wife, of the same flesh 
as myself. Who, with me, knows you better? 
It is necessary for you to have the strength and 
the deed, it is necessary for you to have a 
duty plainly laid down and final. 
That is why I have this sand in my hair. 
JACQUES HURY: Happiness is ended for me. 
VIOLAINE: It is ended, what does that matter? 
Happiness was never promised to you. Work, 
that is all that is asked of you. (And Monsan- 
vierge belongs only to you now.) 



Question the old earth and she will always answer 

you with bread and wine. 
As for me I have finished with her, and I go 

Tell me, what is the day you will pass far from 

me? It will soon pass. 
And when your turn shall come, and when you 

see the great door creak and move, 
I shall be on the other side and you will find me 
waiting. (Silence. 

JACQUES HURY: O my betrothed, through the 

blossoming branches, hail! 
VIOLAINE: You remember? 

Jacques! Good morning, Jacques! 

(The first rays of dawn appear. 
And now I must be carried away from here. 
JACQUES HURY: Carried away? 
VIOLAINE : This is not the place for a leper to die in. 
Let me be carried to that shelter my father 
built for the poor at the door of Monsanvierge, 
(He makes as if to take her. She waves him 

away with her hand. 
No, Jacques, no, not you. 
JACQUES HURY: What, not even this last duty 

to you? 
VIOLAINE: No it is not right that you should touch 

Call Pierre de Craon. 



He has been a leper, though God has cured him. 

He has no horror of me. 

And I know that to him I am like a brother, 
and woman has no more power over his soul. 
(JACQUES HURY goes out and returns several 
minutes later with PIERRE DE CRAON. 
She does not speak. The two men look at 
her in silence. 
VIOLAINE: Jacques! 
JACQUES HURY: Violaine! 
VIOLAINE: Has the year been good and the grain 

fine and abundant? 
JACQUES HURY: So abundant that we do not know 

where to put it all. 

How beautiful a great harvest is! 

Yes, even now I remember it, and I think it 


JACQUES HURY: Yes, Violaine. 
VIOLAINE: How beautiful it is 

To live! (speaking low and with deep fervour) and 

how great is the glory of God ! 
JACQUES HURY: Live, then, and stay with us. 
VIOLAINE: But how good it is to die too! When all 
is really ended, and over us spreads little by 

The darkness, as of a deep shade. (Silence. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: She does not speak any more. 



JACQUES HURY: Take her. Carry her where I 

have told you. 

For, as to me, she does not wish me to touch her, 
Very gently! Gently, gently, I tell you. Do 
not hurt her. 

(They go out, PIERRE carrying the body. 
The door stands open. Long pause. 


Act Four: Scene Four 

On the threshold of the door appears ANNE VERCORS 
in the habit of a traveller, a staff in his hand and a 
sack slung on his back. 

Is the house empty, that all the doors should be 
open ? 

Who has come in so early before me? or who 
is it that has gone out? 

(He looks around a long time. 

I recognize the old room, nothing is changed. 

Here is the fireplace, here is the table. 

Here is the ceiling with its strong beams. 

I am like an animal that smells all around him, 
and who knows his resting-place and his home. 

Hail, house ! It is I. Here is the master come back. 

Hail, Monsanvierge, lofty dwelling! 

From far away, since yesterday morning and the 
day before, on the top of the hill I recognized 
the Arch with the five towers. 

But why is it that the bells ring no more? neither 
yesterday nor this morning. 

Have I heard in the sky, with the Angel nine- 
fold sonorous, tidings of Jesus brought three 
times, three times to the heart of Mary. 



Monsanvierge ! how often I have thought of thy 

While, under my captive feet, I made the water 
rise into the garden of the old man of Damascus. 
(Oh, the morning, and the implacable afternoon ! 
Oh, the eternal noria and the eyes we lift 
toward Lebanon!) 

And all the aromatic odours of exile are little 
to me 

Compared with this walnut-leaf I crush between 
my fingers. 

Hail, Earth, powerful and subdued! Here it 
is not sand that we plough, and soft alluvium, 

But the deep earth itself that we work with the 
whole strength of our body and of the six oxen 
who pull and form slowly under the plough- 
share of the great trench, 

And, as far as my eyes can see, everything has 
responded to the upheaval man has caused. 

Already I have seen all my fields, and perceived 
that everything is well cared for. God be 
praised! Jacques does his work well. 

(He lays his sack on the table. 

Earth, I have been to seek for thee a little earth, 

A little earth for my burial, that which God him- 
self chose for his own at Jerusalem. (Pause. 

I would not come back last night. I waited for 



And I passed the night under a stack of new 
straw, thinking, sleeping, praying, looking 
around, remembering, giving thanks, 

Listening to hear, if I could, the voice of my 
wife, or of my daughter Violaine, or of a cry- 
ing child. 

When I awoke I saw that the night was brighter. 

And up there, above the dark crest of Monsan- 
vierge, resplendent, from Arabia, 

The morning star rose over France, like a herald 
rising in the solitude! 

And then I came to the house. 

Hallo! Is there anybody here? 

(He raps on the table with his staff. . . . 
Curtain, which remains down a few min- 

Act Four: Scene Five 

The farther end of the garden. Afternoon of the 
same day. End of the summer. 

The trees are heavy with fruit. The branches of 
some of them, bending to the ground, are held up by 
props. The dried and tarnished leaves, mingled with 
the red and yellow of apples, seem like tapestry. 

Below, flooded with light, lies the immense plain as it 
would be after the harvest; with stubble, and already 
some ploughed earth. The white roads and the villages 
can be seen. There are rows of haystacks, looking very 
small, and here and there a poplar. Far away, in 
another direction, are flocks of sheep. The shadows 
of large clouds pass over the plain. 

In the middle, where the scene descends toward the 
background, from which the tops of the trees in a little 
wood are seen to emerge, there is a semicircular stone 
bench, reached by three steps, and with lions' heads at 
each end of its back. ANNE VERCORS is sitting there, 
with JACQUES HURY at his right side. 

ANNE VERCORS: The golden end of Autumn 
Will soon 

Despoil the fruit tree and the vine. 
And in the morning the white sun, 



A single flash of a fireless diamond, will blend 
with the white vesture of the earth: 

And the evening is near when he who walks 
beneath the aspen 

Shall hear the last leaf on its summit. 

Now, behold, making equal the days and nights, 

Counterpoising the long hours of labour with its 
projecting sign, athwart the celestial Door 

Interposes the royal Balance. 
JACQUES HURY: Father, since thou hast been gone, 

Everything, the painful story, and the plot of 
these women, and the pitfall made to take 
us in, 

Thou know'st, and I have told thee 

Still another thing, with my mouth against thine 

Where is thy wife ? where is thy daughter Violaine? 

And lo, thou talkest of the straw we twist, and 
of the great black grape 

Which fills the hand of the vine-dresser, the 
hand he thrusts under the vine-branch! 


The crooked Scorpion and the retreating Sagit- 

Have appeared on the dial of night. 
ANNE VERCORS: Let the old man exult in the warm 
season! O truly blessed place! O bosom of the 
Fatherland! O grateful, fecund earth! 



The carts passing along the road 
Leave straw among the fruited branches! 
JACQUES HURY: O Violaine! O cruel Violaine! 

desire of my soul, you have betrayed me! 
O hateful garden! O love useless and denied! 

O garden planted in an evil hour! 
Sweet Violaine! perfidious Violaine! Oh, the 

silence and the depth of woman! 
Art thou then really gone, my soul? 
Having deceived me, she goes away; and having 

undeceived me, with fatal sweet words, 
She goes again, and I, bearing this poisoned 

arrow, it will be necessary 
That I live on and on ! like the beast we take 

by the horn, drawing his head out of the 

Like the horse we loose from the single-tree in 

the evening with a lash of the whip on his 

O ox, it is thou that walkest ahead, but we two 

make but one team. 
Only that the furrow be made, that is all they 

ask of us. 
That is why everything that was not necessary to 

my task, everything has been taken away from 

ANNE VERCORS: Monsanvierge is dead, and the 

fruit of your labour is for you alone. 



JACQUES HURY: It is true. (Silence. 

ANNE VERCORS: Have they looked well to pro- 
visioning the chapel for to-morrow? 
Is there enough to eat and drink for all those we 

shall have to entertain? 

JACQUES HURY: Old man! It is your daughter 
we are going to lay in the earth, and behold 
what you find to say! 

Surely you have never loved her! But the old 
man, like the miser who after warming his 
hands at his pot of embers hoards their heat in 
his bosom, 

He suffices for himself alone. 
ANNE VERCORS: Everything must be done. 

Things must be done honourably. 
. . . Elisabeth, my wife, hidden heart! 


ANNE VERCORS: Is everything ready? 

PIERRE DE CRAON: They are working at the coffin. 

They are digging the grave where you ordered, 

Close up by the church there, near that of the 

last chaplain, your brother. 
Within it they have put the earth you brought 


A great black ivy-vine 
Comes out of the priestly tomb, and, crossing the 

Enters almost into the sealed arch. 



. . . To-morrow, in the early morning. Every- 
thing is ready. 

(JACQUES HURY weeps, his face in his cloak. 
In the path is seen a nun, like a woman 
who hunts for flowers. 

ANNE VERCORS: What are you looking for, Sister? 

VOICE OF THE NUN (hollow and smothered) : Some 

flowers, to lay on her heart, between her 


ANNE VERCORS: There are no more flowers, there 

is nothing but fruit. 
JACQUES HURY: Push aside the leaves and you 

will find the last violet! 

And the Immortelle is still in the bud, and noth- 
ing is left to us but the dahlia and the poppy. 

(The nun is no longer there. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: The two Sisters, who care for 
the sick, one quite young the other very old, 
Have dressed her, and Mara has sent her wedding- 
dress for her. 

Truly, she was only a leper, but she was honour- 
able in the sight of God. 
She reposes in a deep sleep 
As one who knows in whose care she is. 
I saw her before they had laid her in the coffin. 
Her body is still supple. 

Oh, while the Sister finished dressing her, with 
her arm around her waist, 



Holding her in a sitting posture, how her head 

fell backward 
Like that of the still warm partridge the hunter 

picks in his hand! 

ANNE VERCORS: My child! my little daughter I car- 
ried in my arms before she knew how to walk! 
The fat little girl who awoke with bursts of 

laughter in her little sabot of a bed. 
All that is over. Ah! ah! O God! Alas! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Don't you want to see her 

before they nail down the coffin-lid ? 
ANNE VERCORS: No. The child disowned 

Goes away secretly. 

JACQUES HURY: Never again in this life shall I 
see her face. 

(PIERRE DE CRAON sits down at the left of 
ANNE VERCORS. Long pause. The sound 
of a hammer on planks. They remain 
silent, listening. 

MARA is seen to pass at the side of the stage 
holding a child in her arms wrapped in a 
Hack shawl. Then she re-enters slowly at 
the back, and comes and stands in front of 
the bench where the three men are sitting. 
They stare at her, except JACQUES HURY, 
who looks at the ground. 

MARA (her head lowered): Hail, father! Hail to 
you all. 



You stare at me and I know what you think: 

"Violaine is dead. 

The beautiful ripe fruit, the good golden fruit 
Has fallen from the branch, and, bitter without, 

hard as a stone within, 
Only the wintry nut remains to us. JJ Who loves 

me? Who has ever loved me? 

(She lifts her head with a savage gesture. 
Well! here I am! what have you to say to me? 

Say everything! What have you against me? 
What makes you look at me like that, with 

your eyes saying: It is thou! It is true, it 

is I! 

It is true, it was I who killed her, 
It was I the other night who took her by the 

hand, having gone to seek her, 
While Jacques was not there, 
And I who made her fall into the sandpit, and 

who turned over upon her 
That loaded cart. Everything was ready, there 

was only a bolt to pull out, 
I did that, 

Jacques! and it is I, too, who said to my mother, 
Violaine to talk to her that day when you came 

back from Braine. 
For I longed ardently to marry you, and if I 

could not I had decided to hang myself the 

day of your wedding. 



Now God, who sees into hearts, had already let her 

take the leprosy. 

- But Jacques never stopped thinking of her. 

That is why I killed her. 
What then? What else was there to do? What 

more could be done 
So that the one I love and who is mine 
Should be mine entirely, as I am his entirely, 
And that Violaine should be shut out? 
I did what I could. 
And you in your turn, answer! Your Violaine 

that you loved, 
How then did you love her, and which was worth 

the most, 

Your love, do you think, or my hatred ? 
You all loved her! and here is her father who 

abandons her, and her mother who advises 


And her betrothed, how he has believed in her! 
Certainly you loved her, 
As we say we love a gentle animal, a pretty flower, 

and that was all the feeling there was in your 


Mine was of another kind; 
Blind, never letting go anything once taken, like 

a deaf thing that does not hear! 
For him to have me entirely, it was necessary to 

me to have him entirely! 


What have I done after all that I must defend 
myself? who has been the most faithful to him, 
I or Violaine? 

Violaine who betrayed him for I know not what 
leper, giving in, said she, to God's council in a 
kiss ? 

I honour God. Let him stay where he is! Our 
miserable life is so short! Let him leave us 
in peace! 

Is it my fault if I loved Jacques? was it for 
my happiness, or for the burning away of my 
soul ? 

What could I do to defend myself, I who am not 
beautiful, nor agreeable, a poor woman who 
can only give pain? 

That is why I killed her in my despair! 

O poor, unskilful crime! 

O disgrace to her that no one loves and with whom 
nothing succeeds! What ought to have been 
done, since I loved him and he did not love 
me? (She turns toward JACQUES. 

And you, Jacques, why do you not speak? 

Why turn you your face to the ground, without 
a word to say, 

Like Violaine, the day when you accused her un- 

Do you not know me? I am your wife. 

Truly I know that I do not seem to you either 



beautiful or agreeable, but look, I have dressed 

myself for you, I have added to that pain that 

I can give you. And I am the sister of Vio- 

It is born of pain! This love is not born of 

joy, it is born of pain! the pain which suffices 

for those who have no joy! 
No one is glad to see it, ah, it is not the flower 

in its season, 
But that which is under the flowers that wither, 

the earth itself, the miserly earth under the 

grass, the earth that never fails! 
Know me then! 
I am your wife and you can do nothing to change 

One inseparable flesh, the contact by the centre 

and by the soul, and for confirmation this 

mysterious parentage between us two. 
Which is, that I have had a child of yours. 
I have committed a great crime, I have killed my 

sister; but I have not sinned against you. And 

I tell you that you have nothing to reproach 

me with. And what do the others matter to 

That is what I had to say, and now do what you 

will. (Silence. 

ANNE VERCORS: What she says is true. Go, 

Jacques, forgive her! 



JACQUES HURY: Come then, Mara. 

(She comes nearer and stands before them, 

forming with her child a single object upon 

which the two men extend together their 

right hands. Their arms cross, and 

JACQUES' hand is laid on the head of the 

child, that of ANNE on the head of MARA. 

JACQUES HURY: It is Violaine who forgives you. 

It is through her, Mara, that I forgive you. 

Guilty woman, it is she who reunites us. 

MARA: Alas! alas! dead words and without a 

ray of light! 

O Jacques, I am no longer the same! There is 
something in me that is ended. Have no fear. 
All that is nothing to me. 

Something in me is broken, and I am left without 
strength, like a woman widowed and without 

(The child laughs vaguely and looks all 
around, with little cries of delight. 
ANNE VERCORS (caressing it): Poor Violaine! And 

you, little child ! How blue its eyes are ! 
MARA (melting into tears): Father! father! ah! 
It was dead, and it was she who brought it back 
to life! 

(She goes away, and sits down alone. 
The sun goes down. It rains here and there 
on the plain, and the lines of the rain can 



be seen crossing the rays of the sun. An 
immense rainbow unfurls. 

VOICE OF A CHILD: Hi! Hi! look at the beautiful 
rainbow ! 

(Other voices cease in the distance. Great 
flocks of pigeons fly about, turning, scatter- 
ing, and alighting here and there in the 
ANNE VERCORS: The earth is set free. The 

place is empty. 
The harvest is all gathered, and the birds of 


Pick up the lost grain. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: Summer is over, the season 
sleeps in a time of quiet, everywhere the foliage 
rustles in the breeze of September. 
The sky has turned blue again, and while the 

partridges call from their covert, 
The buzzard soars in the liquid air. 
JACQUES HURY: Everything is yours. Father! take 

back again all this property you vested in me. 
ANNE VERCORS: No, Jacques, I no longer possess 
anything, and this is no more mine. He who 
went away will not return, and that which is 
once given cannot be 
Taken back. Here is a new Combernon, a new 

PIERRE DE CRAON: The other is dead. The virgin 



mountain is dead, and the scar in her side will 

never open again. 
ANNE VERCORS: It is dead. My wife, too, is 

dead, my daughter is dead, the holy Maid 
Has been burned and thrown to the winds, not 

one of her bones remains on the earth. 
But the King and the Pope have been given back 

again to France and to the whole world. 
The schism comes to an end, and once more the 

Throne rises above all men. 
1 returned by Rome, I kissed the foot of Saint 

Peter, I ate the consecrated bread standing with 

people from the Four Divisions of the Earth, 
While the bells of the Quirinal and of the Lateran, 

and the voice of Santa Maria Maggiore, 
Saluted the ambassadors of these new nations 

who come from the Orient and the Occident 

all together into the City, 
Asia found again, and this Atlantic world beyond 

the Pillars of Hercules! 
And this very evening when the Angelus shall 

ring, at the same hour when the star Al-Zohar 

glows in the unfurled heaven, 
Begins the year of Jubilee which the new Pope 

The annulment of debts, the liberation of prisoners, 

the suspension of war, the closing of the courts, 

the restitution of all property. 


PIERRE DE CRAON: Truce for one year and peace 

for one day only. 
ANNE VERCORS: What does it matter? peace is 

good, but war will find us armed. 
Pierre! this is a time when women and new- 
born infants teach sages and old men ! 
Here am I shocked like a Jew because the face 

of the Church is darkened, and because she 

totters on her road forsaken by all men. 
And I wanted once more to clasp the empty 

tomb, to put my hand in the hole left by the 

But my little daughter Violaine has been wiser. 
Is the object of life only to live? will the feet of 

God's children be fastened to this wretched 

earth ? 
It is not to live, but to die, and not to hew the 

cross, but to mount upon it, and to give all that 

we have, laughing! 
There is joy, there is freedom, there is grace, 

there is eternal youth! and as God lives, the 

blood of the old man on the sacrificial cloth, 

near that of the young man, 
Makes a stain as red and fresh as that of the 

yearling lamb! 
O Violaine! child of grace! flesh of my flesh! 

As far as the smoky fire of my farm is distant 

from the morning star, 



When on the sun's breast that beautiful virgin 

lays her illumined head, 

May thy father see thee on high through all eter- 
nity in the place which has been kept for thee! 
As God lives, where the little child goes the 

father should go also! 
What is the worth of the world compared to life ? 

and what is the worth of life if not to be given ? 
And why torment ourselves when it is so simple 

to obey? 
It is thus that Violaine follows at once without 

hesitation the hand that takes hers. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: O father! I was the last who 

held her in my arms, because she entrusted 

herself to Pierre de Craon, knowing that there 

is no longer in his heart the desire of the flesh. 
And the young body of this divine brother lay 

in my arms like a tree that has been cut down 

and droops 
Already, as the glowing colour of the pomegranate 

blossoms everywhere flames from the bud that 

can no longer sheathe it, 
So the splendour of the angel that knows not 

death embraces our little sister. 
The odour of Paradise exhaled in my arms from 

this broken tabernacle. 
Do not weep, Jacques, my friend. 
ANNE VERCORS: Do not weep, my son. 



JACQUES HURY: Pierre, give me back that ring she 

gave thee. 

Any more than the ripened spike of corn can 

give back the seed in the earth from which 

sprang its stem. 

Of that bit of gold I have made a fiery gem. 
And the vessel of everlasting Day where the seed 

of the ultimate goodness of saintly souls is 

Justitia is finished and lacks only the woman 

that I shall set there at the blossoming of my 

supreme lily. 
ANNE VERCORS: You are powerful in works, Pierre, 

and I have seen on my way the churches you 

have brought to birth. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Blessed be God who has made 

me a father of churches, 

And who has endowed my soul with understand- 
ing and the sense of the three dimensions! 
And who has debarred me as a leper and freed 

me from all temporal care, 
To the end that I should raise up from the soil 

of France Ten Wise Virgins whose oil is never 

exhausted, and who compose a vessel of prayers! 
What is this soul, or bolt of wood, that the lute- 
maker inserts between the front and the back 

of his instrument, 



Compared to this great enclosed lyre, and of 
these columnar Powers in the night, whose 
number and distance I have calculated? 

Never from the outside do I carve an image. 

But, like father Noah, from the middle of my 
enormous Arch, 

I work from within, and see everything rise 
simultaneously around me! 

And what is matter which the hand can chisel 
compared to the spirit we strive to enshrine, 

Or to the hallowed space left empty by a rever- 
ent soul shrinking back in the presence of its 
God ? 

Nothing is too deep for me: my wells descend 
as far as the waters of the Mother-spring. 

Nothing is too high for the spire that mounts to 
heaven and steals God's lightning from him! 

Pierre de Craon will die, but the Ten Virgins, 
his daughters, 

Will remain like the Widow's cruse 

In which the flower and the sacred measures of 

the oil and wine are renewed for ever. 
ANNE VERCORS: Yes, Pierre. Whoever trusts him- 
self to stone will not be deceived. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Oh, how beautiful is stone, 
and how soft it is in the hands of the architect ! 
and how right and beautiful a thing is his whole 
completed work! 

1 60 


How faithful is stone, and how well it preserves 

the idea, and what shadows it makes! 
And if a vine grows well on the least bit of wall, 

and the rosebush above it blooms, 
How beautiful it is, and how true it is altogether! 
Have you seen my little church of TEpine, which 

is like a glowing brasier and a rosebush in full 

And Saint Jean de Vertus like a handsome young 

man in the midst of the Craie Champenoise? 

And Mont-Saint Martin which will be mellow 

in fifty years? 
And Saint-Thomas of Fond-d'Ardenne that you 

can hear in the evening bellowing like a bull 

in the midst of its marshes? 
But Justitia that I have made last, Justitia my 

daughter is more beautiful! 
ANNE VERCORS: I shall go there and leave my 

staff for a thank-offering. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: She is dedicated in my heart, 

nothing is lacking, she is whole. 
And for the roof, 
I have found the stone I sought, not quarried by 

Softer than alabaster and closer-grained than a 

As the fragile teeth of the little Justitia serve as 

a foundation for my great structure, 



So also at the summit, in the wide sky, I shall 
set this other Justice 

Violaine the leper in glory, Violaine the blind in 
the sight of everybody. 

And I shall make her with her hands crossed on 
her breast, like the spike of grain still half- 
prisoned in its tegmen, 

And her eyes blindfolded. 
ANNE VERCORS: Why blindfolded? 
PIERRE DE CRAON: That, seeing not, she may the 
better hear 

The sounds of the city and the fields, and man's 
voice at the same time with the voice of God. 

For she is Justice herself, who listens and con- 
ceives in her heart the perfect harmony. 

This is she who is a refuge from storms, and a 
shade from the heat at the rising of the dog- 

JACQUES HURY: But Violaine is not a stone for me, 
and stone does not suffice me! 

And I do not wish the light of her beautiful eyes 

to be veiled! 

ANNE VERCORS: The light of her soul is with us. 
I have not lost thee, Violaine! How beautiful 
thou art, my child! 

And how beautiful is the bride when on her wed- 
ding-day she shows herself to her father in her 
splendid wedding-gown, sweetly embarrassed. 



Walk before me, Violaine, my child, and 1 will 
follow thee. But sometimes turn thy face 
toward me, that I may see thine eyes! 

Violaine! Elisabeth! soon again I shall be with 

As for you, Jacques, perform your task in your 
turn, as I have done mine! The end is near. 

It is here, the end of all that is given me of the 
day, of the year, and of my own life! 

It is six o'clock. The shadow of the Gres-qui- 
va-boire reaches the brook. 

Winter comes, night comes ; yet a little more night, 

A short watch! 

All my life I have worked with the Sun and aided 
him in his task. 

But now, by the fireside, in the light of the lamp, 

All alone I must begin the night. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: O husbandman, your work is 
finished. See the empty land, see the har- 
vested earth, and already the plough attacks 
the stubble! 

And now, what you have begun it is my part to 

As you have opened the furrow, I dig the pit 
wherein to preserve the grain, I prepare the 

And as it is not you who cause the harvest to 
ripen, but the sun, so is it also with grace. 



And nothing, unless it issue from the seed, can 

develop into the ear. 
And certainly, Justice is beautiful. But how 

much more beautiful 
Is this fruitful tree of mankind, which the seed 

of the Eucharist engenders and makes grow. 
This too makes one complete whole, unified. 
Ah, if all men understood architecture as I do, 
Who would willingly fail to follow his vocation 

and renounce the sacred place assigned to him 

in the Temple? 
ANNE VERCORS: Pierre de Craon, you have many 

thoughts, but for me this setting sun suffices. 
All my life I have done the same thing that he 

does, cultivating the earth, rising and returning 

home with him. 
And now I go into the night, and I am not afraid, 

and I know that there too all is clear and in 

order, in the season of this great heavenly 

winter which sets all things in motion. 
The night sky where everything is at work, and 

which is like a great ploughing, and a room 

with only one person in it. 
And there the eternal Ploughman drives the seven 

oxen, with his gaze set upon a fixed star, 
As ours is set upon the green branch that marks 

the end of the forrow. 
The sun and I, side by side 



Have worked, and the product of our work does 

not concern us. Mine is done. 
I bow to what must be, and now I am willing 

to be dissolved. 
And herein lies peace for him who knows it, and 

joy and grief in equal parts. 

My wife is dead. Violaine is dead. That is right. 
I, 'do not desire to hold any more that weak and 

wrinkled old hand. And as for Violaine, when 

she was eight years old, when she came and 

threw herself against my legs, 
How I loved that strong little body! And little 

by little the impetuous, frolicsome roughness 

of the laughing child 
Melted into the tenderness of the maiden, into 

the pain and heaviness of love, and when I 

went away 
I saw already in her eyes one unknown blossom 

among the flowers of her springtime. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: The call of death, like a solemn 

ANNE VERCORS: Blessed be death in which all the 

petitions in the Paternoster are satisfied. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: For my part, it was by herself 

and from her innocent lips 

That I received freedom and dismissal from this life. 
(The sun is in the western sky, as high as a 
tall tree. 



ANNE VERCORS: Behold the sun in the sky, 

As he is in the pictures where the Master awakes 
the workman at the Eleventh Hour. 

(The door of the barn is beard to creak. 
JACQUES HURY: What is that? 
ANNE VERCORS: They have come to the barn for 

To lay in the bottom of the grave. 

(Silence: - Sound in the distance of a washer- 
woman beating linen. 
VOICE OF A CHILD (without): 

Marguerite of Paris, pray! 
Lend to me thy shoes of gray! 
To walk in Paradise a way! 
How fair it is! 
How warm it is! 
I hear the little bird say it is! 
He goes pa a a - - a! 
JACQUES HURY: That is not the door of the barn, 

it is the sound of the tomb opening ! 
And, having looked at me with her blind eyes, 

she that I loved passes to the other side. 
And I too, I have looked at her like one who is 

blind, and I did not doubt without proofs. 
I never doubted her who accused her. 
I have made my choice, and she that I chose has 
been given to me. What shall I say? It is 

1 66 


It is right. 

Happiness is not for me, but desire! it will never 

be torn from me. 

And not Violaine, radiant and unblemished, 
But the leper bending over me with a bitter 
smile and the devouring wound in her side! 


(The sun is behind the trees. It shines 
through the branches. The shadows of 
the leaves cover the ground and the seated 
people. Here and there a golden bee shines 
in the sunny interstices. 

ANNE VERCORS: Here am I seated, and from the 
top of the mountain I see all the country at 
my feet. 

And I recognize the roads, and I count the farms 
and villages, and I know them by name, and 
all the people who live in them. 
The plain is lost to view toward the north. 
And elsewhere, rising again, the hill surrounds 

this village like a theatre. 
And everywhere, all the while, 
Green and pink in the spring, blue and flaxen in 
the summer, brown in winter or all white 
with snow, 

Before me, at my side, around me, 
I see always the Earth, like an unchanging sky 
all painted with changing colours. 



Having a form as much its own as a person's, it 
is always there present with me. 

Now that is finished. 

How many times have I risen from my bed and 
gone to my work! 

And now here is evening, and the sun brings 
home the men and the animals as if he led 
them by his hand. 

(He raises himself slowly and painfully, and 
slowly stretches out his arms to their full 
length, while the sun, grown yellow, covers 

Ah! ah! : : 

Here am I stretching out my arms in the rays 
of the sun. 

Evening is come! Have pity upon every man, 
Lord, in that hour when he has finished his 
task and stands before Thee like a child whose 
hands are being examined. 

Mine are free. My day is finished. I have 
planted the grain and I have harvested it, and 
with this bread that I have made all my chil- 
dren have made their communion. 

Now I have finished. 

A moment ago there was some one with me. 

And now, wife and child having gone away, 

I remain alone to say grace at the empty table. 

Both of them are dead, but I, 

1 68 


I live, on the threshold of death, and I am filled 
with inexplicable joy! 

(The Angelus is rung from the church down 

below. First toll of three strokes. 
JACQUES HURY (hollowly) : The Angel of God pro- 
claims peace to us, and the child thrills in the 
bosom of its mother. (Second toll. 

PIERRE DE CRAON: 'Men of little faith, why do 
you weep?' (Third toll. 

ANNE VERCORS: "Because I go to my father and 
to your father/' 

(Profound silence. Then peal. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Thus the Angelus speaks as 

if with three voices, in May 
When the unmarried man comes home, having 

buried his mother, 
"Voice-of-the-Rose" speaks in the silvery evening. 

Violaine! woman through whom comes 

For, not yet knowing what I would do, I turned 
my eyes where you then did turn thine. 

Truly I have always thought that joy was a good 

But now I have everything! 

1 possess everything, under my hands, and I am 
like a person who, seeing a tree laden with fruit, 

And having mounted a ladder, feels the thick 
branches yield under his body. 



I must talk under the tree, like a flute which is 

neither low nor shrill ! How the water 
Raises me! Thanksgiving unseals the stone of 

my heart! 

How I live, thus! How I grow greater, thus 
mingled with my God, like the vine and the 

(The sun goes down. MARA turns her head 

toward her husband and looks at him. 
JACQUES HURY: See her, looking at me. See her 
returning to me with the night! 

(Sound of a cracked bell near by. First toll. 
ANNE VERCORS: It is the little bell of the sisters 
that rings the Angelus in^its turn. 

(Silence. Then another bell is heard, very 
high up, at Monsanvierge, sounding in its 
turn the triple toll, admirably sonorous and 

PIERRE DE CRAON: A miracle! 
ANNE VERCORS : It is Monsanvierge come to life again ! 
The Angelus, ringing once more, brings to the lis- 
tening heavens and earth the wonted tidings. 
PIERRE DE CRAON: Yes, Voice-of-the-Rose, God 
is born! 

(Second toll of the bell of the sisters. 
It strikes the third note just as Monsan- 
vierge strikes the first. 



ANNE VERCORS: God makes himself man. 
JACQUES HURY: He is dead! 
PIERRE DE CRAON: He is risen! 

(Third toll of the bell of the sisters. Then 

the peal. 

Pause. Then, nearly lost in the distance, 
are heard the three strokes of the third 
toll up on the heights. 
ANNE VERCORS: This is not the toll of the Angelus, 

it is the communion bells! 

PIERRE DE CRAON: The three strokes are gathered 
like an ineffable sacrifice into the bosom of 
the Virgin without sin. 

(Their faces are turned toward the heights, 
they listen J^^^j^^^^ peal, which 
does not.